Elynn Walter is an activist whose mission is to improve hygiene in low-income countries. She works with the group WASH Advocates (WASH stands for “water, sanitation and hygiene”). Her issue is critical: Across the developing world, tens of millions of girls face major difficulties managing their monthly period. According to UNICEF, more than half of schools in the poorest countries lack private toilets. And unlike teenage girls in well-off countries, many in the developing world can’t afford (or even find) tampons and pads.
But addressing the problem is a challenge, says Walter, because even otherwise level-headed experts on poverty tend to get squeamish when the talk turns to periods. In fact, Walter thinks the squeamishness over menstrual hygiene is a big reason global health and development advocates ignored the subject for decades.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Be Girl Inc.
Caption: Schoolgirls in Ethiopia examine a new feminine product: underwear with a pocket for a menstrual pad.