One of Margaret Hirsch’s projects for the year ahead is to take the Girls With Dignity Projects to underprivileged school girls throughout South Africa. Margaret
BWSA’s Business Woman Of The Year (Entrepreneur) took on this project when she learnt that post pubescent girls in underprivileged areas around the country (and throughout Africa) were not attending school for a week every month when they had their periods. “These girls are missing out on three months of their education every year. I realised that it was something that had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”
Sue Barnes, who developed the “Girls with dignity” pad pack has a background in clothing construction, fabrication and quality control. Commenting on how the pad and panty set evolved she explained “I spent a while coming up with different ideas before my final product evolved. It is a normal panty that has poppers on it, and the sanitary pad
clips onto the panty. This is very user friendly as the pad clips on and off easily. The panty is made of 100% cotton knit, (130 – 140g) which allows the skin to breath. The elastic has a
standard non-woven rubber base, and wont stretch out of shape. The pad has 6 layers, the outer being the 100% cotton knit, water proofing, 3 layers of hydrophilic fabric
and then the inner is a hydrophobic fabric. It is fully washable and therefore reusable and will last as long as a pair of panties.
Margaret has a holiday home in Zanzibar, and recently spent two weeks there. “Knowing that there are girls in a similar situation to South Africans, I took a supply of dignity packs with me to distribute. We live next door to Matemwe village. There are 300 residents, jobs are scarce and the women don’t have access to any form of sanitary protection – or panties. My translator – a female lawyer – said that it was impossible to go to work when she had a period. Needless to say the packs were received with superstition at first but once their use was thoroughly explained (in Swahili), they took them happily.”