When my good friend Samara Hawthorne approached me about having pads made by women in Zimbabwe I wasn’t sure, I had always prided myself on my business being UK, sourcing goods and fabrics from other UK businesses, having extra sewing of pads done by women who I knew really needed the work.
But over the years Moon Times has expanded and to meet customers needs we now sell menstrual cups from Canada and Denmark and of course while fabrics are sourced in the UK they aren’t made here…! Also, when Samara explained to me that the charity she was trustee for was about empowering and supporting women – many of whom were mothers with disabled children, I felt I had to help! As we explored ideas it became apparent that not only would the pad making project be providing work opportunities for the women, it would be providing them with reusable menstrual products, it would be educating them about their cycles and opening up a dialogue that will impact their health and their self esteem!
Women in Zimbabwe have certain taboo’s around their monthly periods and due to the poverty women cannot afford to buy menstrual products.
Over 90 per cent of Zimbabweans are unemployed and 80 per cent of the population live below the poverty line. Women bear an unequal burden of the crisis with a HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 21 per cent and a life expectancy of just 43 years.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe means menstrual products are expensive and many women use alternatives such as newspapers, rags, leaves and bark as a substitute to pads. Many women cannot go to work and girls cannot go to school when they have their periods
The women who make the pads are paid a fair trade rate of pay, and profits will be put back into the project for the women to buy more fabric and machines.
The first 2 sewing machines were funded by the Merchant Taylors Old Girls Association who generously donated £150 to the project.
Feedback from Samara who traveled from Wales to set up the pad making project in Jan 2015. “They really like the idea and concept of the pads, and currently these women do use cloth.
They are also keen to try to make some with double towelling inside, for the “heavier” days- so already they are thinking to innovate. They also have some red material and are going to make some little bags with ribbon drawstring to fit in three pads, like a little package.
They are planning to finish as many pads as possible before i return home to Wales.
They use every single inch of the material, and the cotton and waste nothing! It took us three hours to set up the new sewing machines and get them working smoothly!
The women were upbeat and positive and we all sang and danced together to celebrate the working machines and the first sewn pads!
The women really like the pads, and are interested in trying to set up a local market here with them. Some women presently get up at 3am and buy vegetables at the dawn farmers market, then get a bus to Harare to sell them for a few pence more at the big market there, returning home at 9pm, just to make a few dollars. so they are delighted that they may be able to make a small income from the pads so they might not have to go to market everyday in the city. So thats the kind of impact it’s making!”
To buy the pads made by these women, see the Moon Times website.
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