I recently met an incredibly empowering lady, who has a heart filled with so much compassion for women around the world, particularly women that do not get to experience the average lifestyle some of us tend to take for granted.

This awesome lady’s name is Chelsea Hornby. She started off in a corporate position as Marketing Manager for a Global Satellite Company.

She left the corporate world and started The Elle Cup, a non-profitable organisation that focuses on a sustainable solution for menstrual hygiene management- inspiring confidence and dignity to the lives of women around the world through a brand that has women’s best interests at heart.

Chelsea became interested in this type of initiative during her final year in varsity, doing her honours research for her thesis on menstrual hygiene management in Africa and India, which enlightened her and made her aware of the type of cultural and religious taboos associated with menstruation.

During her research, she discovered the immense need of sanitary products and the lack thereof in Africa.

“The reality is that girls and women in rural communities aren’t able to afford sanitary products. Statistics reveal that 1 in every 10 girls drop out of school because they don’t  have access to menstrual hygiene products or sanitary pads, and 1 in every 3 girls are absent from school every month. Girls in high school are missing one week per month, which is 1/5 of their high school career leading them to feel discouraged and with no hope to continue and complete it.”

Women in rural areas around Africa and around the world do not experience the luxury that we may have of being able to purchase sanitary products or even having access to running water.

Chelsea went on to describe her trip to Niger; poor, malnourished, and Africa’s most difficult country to live in, far worse than Ethiopia.

Niger has one of the largest populations in Africa; the estimated population is about 178 million people. Their food supply consists of plantain, rice, and maize without any meat as the meat is too expensive to purchase. They have a communal well that is used to draw their water supply.

She describes her bathroom experience in a 40 ft container that was converted into a restaurant as one of the most unpleasant experiences. There were two holes in the ground with human waste and unidentifiable rodents squirming around and for the locals, this is seen as the norm.

“Experiencing the way of living especially in hospitals and schools, was beyond hectic!”

6% of the female population know what a period is but the rest associate their period as a bleeding disorder, witchcraft, illnesses or even death.

Sanitary pads in these communities sell at $3.50, whereas their daily wage is averaged at $1.20, so they would rather purchase food than sanitary products.
High-end women in the community are able to use the animal skin that has been passed down from generations, other women look to using bird feathers to help manage their period.

Chelsea started using a menstrual cup 6 years ago. She saw it as a perfect solution for women and girls in rural areas.

There are many corporates that have invested in donating sanitary pads to rural communities but what they don’t realize is that sanitary pads are a disposable solution that corporates need to upkeep on a monthly basis. They commit to spending millions trying to do good, however, restrict themselves from potentially helping far more girls than what they could with their recurring disposable budget each year. Whereas the menstrual cup is a far more sustainable, eco-friendly solution that can last up to 15 years, it’s a once-off investment.

My personal experience using the Elle Cup was, at first, uncomfortable, similar to my first experience of using a tampon. But as Chelsea described it, it’s probably the most comfortable hygienic device around.

This little device is something that can help girls and women in underprivileged communities get a full education and self-confidence which is something that most, if not all women experience a lack thereof.  

Hearing Chelsea’s story made me realize that we have an accessible solution at our fingertips yet because there’s such a strong negative stigma around a women’s period, we’re not getting to know, nor are we willing to understand the struggles that other women are having to experience.

I might not have the loudest voice right now but if this is the beginning in helping educate women or at least make them more aware of what’s happening in the community, I am more than willing to help.

Details about The Elle Cup and how you can get involved in this exciting initiative can be found by clicking on the link below:

http://www.ellecup.org/

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