Alexandra will be travelling to Malawi next March as part of a project to supply several hundred women between the ages of 13 and 17 with washable feminine hygiene pads in collaboration with Lunapads, a British-Columbia-based company. Lunapads manufactures washable cloth pads that can be worn for an entire day. As well, she intends to help women make their own pads by working in collaboration with local seamstresses in Makupo village.
“There is a major issue in Malawi as many young women have limited access to education because due to cultural realities they don’t go to school or drop-out as there is a certain taboo about menstruation. Therefore, when they are menstruating these young women feel shame and miss many classes leading to a high level of absenteeism. Helping them to make their own pads will also hopefully result in empowering them while also creating jobs,” said Alexandra Mota.
Mota, a second semester Social Sciences student at Vanier majoring in Women’s Studies and Sustainability, said she wanted to do something to help eliminate the stigma for these women and decided to look at ways to help provide relief. She is currently organizing several fundraising activities to help pay for her trip to Malawi and purchase the pads.
“It’s already a huge challenge for many of these women as they are facing harsh realities such as famine or drought. However, I believe everyone should have the right to an education so I feel as though by taking this action I am doing my part to eliminate menstruation-related school absenteeism while also strengthening their confidence in their bodies,” said Alexandra Mota, who wants to pursue a career in International Development.
Mota will make the trip to Malawi next march with a group of Vanier Nursing students who participate every year in the The Malawi Nursing Exchange Program whereby they complete a set number of hours of clinical nursing during their final semester in Malawi to fulfill their Nursing diploma requirements.