Gallery shows how women use animal skins, cow dung, cloth to manage periods

The charity reported that one in nine people don’t have clean water close to home and one in three don’t have a decent toilet of their own.

As part of the gallery, WaterAid spoke to some of these women who revealed what methods they use.

Limpo, a 22-year-old from Zambia uses dried up cow dung. She cuts them into small patties and wraps a cloth over them.

‘I do not put the cow patties directly on my skin, I wrap it in a cloth and place it nicely to capture the flow without staining other clothes,’ she said.

‘I like this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood before they are completely soaked. I go about doing all sorts of things without any trouble.

‘Once soaked, I carefully dispose of it privately. I usually dig a small hole in the ground and bury it. In our culture, it is not allowed that men see such things.’

Lepera Joyce from Uganda said she uses an animal skin ‘menstruation skirt’.

She said: ‘Once I bought a pack of sanitary pads from the shop but I did not like them because if one has heavy blood flow she can use more than three pads in a day yet they are expensive.

‘Also they are small, they do not absorb all blood, yet the goatskin skirt works for the whole day.’

Similarly, Sangita, from Nepal, makes her own sanitary pads.

‘Readymade pads are costly and if you do not dispose of them properly it will pollute the environment,’ she said.

‘In a municipality like ours where there is no plan for managing solid waste, these sorts of pads can contaminate our water source as well if not disposed of properly. So looking at the wider impact, homemade pads are safer.’

But if materials are being reused or washed with unclean water and are therefore unhygienic, they pose health risks.

WaterAid said all women should have access to a clean and safe sanitary product of their choice.

They are urging governments to take action against period poverty.

‘WaterAid is calling on governments worldwide to prioritise appropriate sanitation, clean water, and good hygiene in schools, homes, and workplaces, and access to sanitary products to all, to ensure that women are not excluded from society once a month as a result of a natural process.’

Here are some other methods women use:

MORE: Man dismisses period poverty as ‘nonsense’

MORE: Woman spends student loan on sanitary products to tackle period poverty at university

MORE: Girls in primary school experience period poverty too – where are their free sanitary products?

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