Poculum is a sustainable students’ project, which combines the education of menstruation and the access to affordable menstrual hygiene products. More than 70 % of women in Bangladesh miss out on school or work during their menstruation. Because of lacking acces to or high costs of menstrual hygien products some women unse cloths or unhygienic towels which increase the risk for infections. We tackle these problems by offering menstrual cups as a hygienic, waste-free alternative and accompany the disposal with sexual education. In this way, we want to empower local women by integrating them into the distribution process.
In Bangladesh menstruation is still a taboo topic and perceived as impure. Girls and women have very limited knowledge on proper menstrual hygiene management. Furthermore, menstrual hygiene products are not affordable for many girls and women. Only few females use hygienic menstrual products during their menstruation. Others use old cloths to absorb the menstrual blood – without proper cleaning and drying. These cloths are often stored in a hidden place for repeated use, because girls feel ashamed to wash them in public.
Additional many girls and women miss several school and work days due to their menstruation. Improper menstrual management is a real barrier of women empowerment! With our project Poculum we want to step in and help to make a change! Menstrual cups have a great potential to ease the life of women. Therefore, we aim to establish them in Bangladesh as well as to offer workshops about the female body.
With the following steps we want to empower women:
STEP 1: Testing the Acceptance
To get an overview of the general acceptance of menstrual cups in Bangladesh, we will conduct a field study in which women try out the use of the cups. Currently, we’re working with our partner CMMS (a Bangladeshi research center) on a field survey in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. This will be the first time that menstrual cups will be properly introduced into the Bangladeshi market. The study will be conducted with 450 young women in Dhaka and will be accompanied by a professional workshop explaining menstruation and the use and benefits of menstrual cups. The participants will give feedback about the usage of menstrual cups over a period of 6 months. The data will be used for a scientific study. The finding will give insights on how menstrual cups can be explained, marketed ans distributed in Bangladesh and in what way they can contribute to improve the lives of women.
Step 2: Local Distribution
With the information gathered from the study we will establish a local distribution network for the cups. Working together with women from Dhaka we will sell cups for a affordable prize. They may buy period cups in bulks from us and can then redistribute them with slight profit for themselves. This network is advantageous to common sale as the product and topic are still treated very sensitive. We will offer free further workshops to the women who want to start selling the cups. They may then pass on their knowledge to other girls, following the “Train the Trainer” concept. However, we will cooperate with local stores as well and might open up an online shop as we proceed.
Step 3: The Long-Term Goal
Thinking long-term, this project is designed to become autonomous. When all structures are set and the procedures of supply and workshops are coordinated, Poculum will become independent from our university group of students. After becoming available in Dhaka, the menstrual cup should also distributed in more rural areas in Bangladesh. The concept might even expand onto neighbouring countries. Local coordination and communication will be handed over to local employees in the project. All material flows will be automated, and the selling network will be led by local partners.