In some developing regions of the world, a girl having her period isn't simply a monthly occurrence -- it's a barrier to accessing education.
Because girls may not have sanitary pads and lack access to proper sanitation facilities in schools, they stay home when they're menstruating, according to Wash United -- the group behind Menstrual Hygiene Day. In Ghana, for instance, girls may miss up to five days of school each month just because they're on their periods.
But one feminine hygiene company that launched last October is attempting to change the status quo through its innovative business model. With every purchase of a product, SHEVA gives a one-month supply of sanitary pads to a girl in need, as well as works to educate her on menstruation, Mashable reported.
Consumers can purchase a wide range of feminine hygiene items from the company, like pads and tampons, as well as pregnancy tests, condoms, lubricants and more. Product prices start at about $5.
"I believe girls are the most powerful forces in changing a community," Marisabel Ruiz, CEO and founder of SHEVA, told Mashable. "But a lot of girls in developing countries do not have access to basic sanitary protection. Every time they have their periods, they miss school or don't go to work. Every month, it's like their lives stop."
Lacking access to proper sanitation not only hinders girls' ability to go to school, it negatively affects their physical health. In some regions of the developing world, buying sanitary pads is taboo and expensive so women and girls resort to using dirty rags. Such unsafe methods can lead to infection and other health complications.
Educating women on how to stay healthy can also improve their lives, according to SHEVA. As Mashable reported, the organization is partnered with several NGOs in developing communities to establish education programs on menstruation and women's health. Ruiz told the outlet the biggest difference he's witnessed through these partnerships is more girls understanding their bodies while also having the confidence to ask questions and take charge of their futures.