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Neo-Pad: Powering Menstrual Hygiene Management and Developing an Affordable Sanitary Pad

Our solution is to develop an appropriate, low-cost MHM options for people in IDP camps and other low-resource settings.

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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

One week every month. To many women, periods are a predictable annoyance. But for over 2 million displaced women in Nigeria, menstruation is not just irritating or inconvenient; it can be a significant barrier to leading a healthy and productive life. In Nigeria, a woman’s period arrives with heavy cultural and social baggage. When an IDP girl starts her period, it is unlikely anybody will offer any solutions or explanations due to cultural taboos. She will be unaware of how and why her body is changing and will make do by tearing up old cloth for rags which is often not pleasing to her. She will miss up to five days of learning every month because she has no way to reliably absorb her menstrual flow. She will fall behind.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

How do we strengthen Local, vertical integration of the project to ensure that the economic, social and environmental benefits of the project remain local?

Explain Your Idea

Our solution is to develop an advance appropriate, low-cost Menstrual Health Management options for internally displaced persons. Research indicates that girls and women are interested in disposable products that prevent leaking, are absorbent, and affordable. We have learned that women lack information on menstruation or appropriate disposal of waste. Reusable MHM options (cloth pads and menstrual cups) while important, require a higher up-front cost, access to clean water and soap, and thorough drying—resources that are not always available in poor communities. We are currently exploring a concept for a hybrid sanitary pad—a reusable, leak-resistant sleeve with options to use either a disposable or reusable absorbent material. This hybrid pad would dry quickly, prevent leaking, reduce plastic waste disposal, and offer the flexibility of using a variety of absorbent materials.We plan to tackle the lack of feminine health education and affordable sanitary protection in two stages. The first stage will focus on improving access to feminine health education through a comprehensive and innovative health curriculum that will be taught in camps across Nigeria. The second stage will be phased following proven success of our health curriculum; will increase access to affordable sanitary protection through camp-based distribution of sanitary pads.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

1.By incorporating families, governments, and local authorities into the educational campaign, they will see the value in “investing in girls,” thereby improving the value of a daughter in a culture that exhibits son preferences. 2.Reduced gynecological morbidity, which affects 43% of the female population. 3.By allowing adolescent girls to stay in school, thus delaying early marriage and pregnancy, these girls could add $100 billion to Nigeria’s GDP over their lifetimes.

How is your idea unique?

This idea is unique because it aims to reduce gender inequality by targeting the root of the problem: menstrual taboos and a fundamental lack of economic and educational resources. For the girls we will reach, Neo-Pad would mean having the choice to go to school without shame. It would mean having the choice to be comfortable every week of the month, and it is the choice to learn about a normal body process instead of being taught to fear it. It means making the choice to live a healthy life. Our ultimate goal is to change habits and reach young girls en masse, enabling them to go to school, maintain their dignity, and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Period.

Who are your end users?

Our idea target women and girls internally displaced across Nigeria. Internally displaced Girls and women lack adequate solutions to manage menstruation. Imported pads are prohibitively expensive for low-income families. Research in Nigeria indicates that 90% of the IDPs poor cannot afford off-the-shelf sanitary pads and instead improvise with materials with limited absorbency such as cloth, newspapers, and even dried grass, making it difficult for menstruating girls to participate in school. Studies have confirmed that educating girls is associated with development and health benefits to the girls, their families, and society. Benefits include protecting girls from HIV/AIDS, abuse, and exploitation; reducing child and maternal mortality; i

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Nigeria

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

We intend to operate mainly in the north-eastern Nigeria, and other places around Nigeria where there are IDP camps.Since 2009, the crisis caused by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria has affected millions of people with widespread displacements and violations of human rights. Protection of the affected population is of the utmost importance, and emergency and life-saving assistance remains critical in the hardest-hit areas.

What is your organization's name?

RAINBOW GATE FOUNDATION NIGERIA

Tell us more about you.

We are a non-profit organization registered in Nigeria and operate for the past seven years in Nigeria. For more information :http://www.rgfn.org/

Organizational Characteristics

  • Youth-led organization
  • Locally/community-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

Abeokuta, Nigeria

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Early Stage Innovation: exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.

Website

http://www.rgfn.org/

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Photo of Sarah Gibson
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I love the idea of addressing the root causes of the issue at hand, and the specificity of your approach. Since you are currently operating in Nigeria, have you established trust and mutual respect with the locals? If so, does this allow you to approach these cultural taboos and if not, how do you plan to address these taboos when implementing your health education initiatives?

Have you thought about a way to teach the women as they go through their daily routines instead of having to dedicate specific time for this education? While I agree the education is important, I fear that successful education must be gradually assimilated into the culture where women are working practically all day for their families. Perhaps an appropriate time would be while women wash clothes or make meals. I am by no means an expert, just wanted to potentially challenge your thinking!

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