Female Sanitation | Reusable Pads

Empowering women and girls through safe sanitation practices and access to education and opportunities, using reusable and hygienic pads.

Why Reusable Pads?

When it comes to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), in many developing communities options that are sanitary and affordable are extremely limited, and yet the resulting implications of this lack of access are extraordinarily broad.

Currently, women and girls in Timor-Leste have only two accessible options for menstruation management: disposable pads, or material sewn together called ‘Henna’. Women complain that these methods are often uncomfortable, itchy, and, in the case of Henna, can leak. With a culture of shame already making education and open discussion about menstruation difficult, the waste management system in Timor-Leste is severely lacking and compounding the issue. Women are often left embarrassed as their sanitary products will – regardless of how they are disposed of – end up in the streets, in waterways, in the ocean, or washing up on beaches; in fact, almost 3/4 women surveyed in Dili, Timor-Leste, reported washing their disposable products before throwing them away, wasting indispensable time and resources and perpetuating the stigma.

In addition, the poor disposal of pads creates a significant environmental burden, as pads are composed of around 90% plastic and are resource- and chemically-intensive to produce.

An estimated 500 million women across the globe are unable to access adequate Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) facilities and materials.

1.25 billion women and girls have no access to a safe, private toilet and 526 million don’t have a toilet at all (UN, 2020)

In rural Timor-Leste, 55% of women stated that they did not have access to alternative menstrual hygiene solutions to disposable pads (PEV, 2020)

What we are doing


We’re enabling access to an affordable, reusable, and culturally-sensitive menstrual management solution for women and girls in Timor-Leste: reusable sanitary pads.
Reusable pads are environmentally sustainable, require very little training to use and keep clean, are culturally sensitive and discreet, and are more cost-effective over time compared to disposable pads. From our initial conversations in Timor-Leste, 57% of women stated they would prefer to use reusable products, usually due to the long-term savings associated with a reusable product, as well as recognition of the environmental benefits.

To bring this powerful social enterprise to life, as well as the empowerment of MHM to Timor-Leste’s 400,000 menstruating women and girls, we are leveraging the already established local infrastructure. Working with existing manufacturers and distributors in Timor-Leste, as well as employing local women as sales agents and partners, we’re keeping more money in the local economy, enhancing GDP, and further combating gender inequality.




What it Addresses

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation


6.2 – By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

Goal 5 - Gender inequality


5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health
Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.

Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

"It’s very, very good. I don’t have problems when menstruating anymore

I am very happy!…I can even go to work or church without having problems – I can do everything!”
Maria, on using our menstrual cups, Malawi

Impact Programs

How to Get involved

Connecting young change-makers and technology partners you will be testing social enterprise solutions in real-world contexts at the very early stages. This is an opportunity to deeply understand our community members and work with them to develop a meaningful social impact.


Get Involved

We believe that tackling global issues won’t be achieved by doing what’s always been done before…are you up for the challenge?

Apply now for the internship of a lifetime; book in a call to activate your application and start shaping real impact.