In June 2019 I had a half day opportunity, while on a cross-continental Africa trip, to make a visit to the DARE Womens Foundation based in Arusha, Tanzania.
The Foundation was more than an hour drive each way which gave me only an hour to make a quick visit, speak with the ladies and make some portraits of the project they were involved with. After shooting with the ladies I spent a brief time getting some info about the reusable sanitary towels they are also making at other workshops.
Above and below you can see two different patents for the sanitary towels which are partly made from highly absorbent off-cut fabrics imported by another NGO to Tanzania for this use.
Their website includes patterns for marine and hand sewing the pads as well as templates for cutting the pattern out.
They are still working on design and patent it seemed as there were a few different versions available for me to see. Below is one ‘pack’ that was available 7 washable and exchangeable cotton/microfibre cloths which slip into the main ‘holder’ (top left) which is then attached to the underwear. They include a diagrammatical info sheet.
Many Tanzanian women, especially in rural areas, do not have access to feminine hygiene products because stores are far away and it is expensive to afford them each month. They use old cloth and cornhusks instead, which can cause fungal infections and embarrassing leaks and odors. This creates a barrier to their work and education because many girls skip school and work during menstruation.
The Dare Women’s Foundation is training women to make reusable pads. A core group of women will start their own small businesses making and selling pads. Reusable pads are cheaper than disposable pads, last up to a year, are environmentally friendly, and eliminate the need to go to a store each month. Check out our sewing pattern and instruction manual to learn how to make your own reusable pads!
Above top right, they include soap bars in all the sanitary packs as well.
From their About Us page:
The Dare Women’s Foundation is an NGO working to empower Tanzanian women and girls, with a focus on rural areas, through poverty alleviation, social justice, economic empowerment, and gender equality.
Many of the women we work with have endured tragedies such as rape, discrimination, domestic violence. Most all of them deal with lack of feminine hygiene care, little nutrition and conservation education, young marriage, and large family size due to lack of contraception and sex education.
By bringing these women together, educating them about their rights, giving them a voice, and supporting them in their endeavors, the Dare Women’s Foundation is changing Tanzania one woman at a time. When you educate a girl, you educate a community.
Below: Each set of pads, soap & instructions etc. comes in its own handmade textile bag for discretion.
The below comes from the website as well.