Empowering Others


Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON) March, 2013 E-Newsletter

In Ethiopia, menstrual supplies are practically nonexistent. Rather than risk the embarrassment of bleeding through their clothes, many girls stay home from school during their cycle each month, causing them to fall behind in their studies and often drop out of school altogether.  And the problem isn’t limited to Ethiopia: UNICEF estimates that one in 10 school-age African girls either skip school during menstruation or drop out entirely because of lack of supplies. But Mary Moran, a clinical instructor at CUSON, found a solution to keep Ethiopian girls in school and restore their confidence:  Her organization Girls2Womendeveloped a program which teaches local Ethiopian leaders and students how to make sanitary pads out of colorful and durable Ethiopian cotton. The pads can be hung to dry in the sun after washing and reused….And Moran has seen firsthand the effects of allowing these girls and young women to help themselves:  “Making their own pads has given these girls a greater sense of independence,” said Moran. “I’ve returned to several of the schools where we trained students and talked with them, and I’ve seen their transformation from shy and timid girls to being feisty and confident. They talk about menstruation in mixed company and they see it as a normal and natural process of growing up,” she said. “By giving them the skills to manage their menstrual cycles, we’re improving their school attendance, and providing the next generation of women with more opportunities.”

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