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How This Ugandan Startup Uses Sugarcane To Help Girls Stay In School

By Nicole Caldwell

A new start-up called Eco Smart Uganda is keeping girls in school by offering them low-cost sanitary products made from sugarcane. It’s the latest news in a series of moves to give young Ugandan women access to sanitary care products. This time though, the personal hygiene items aren’t just accessible—they’re cheap, locally made, and 100 percent eco-friendly.   

“Our movement as Eco Smart Pads is about making sure that all girls and women have access to clean sanitary products independent of their class,” the company says on its Twitter page. It’s a common-sense concept that is long overdue.

Ten percent of Sub-Saharan African girls miss school during their menstrual cycles. 

As many as one in every 10 percent of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their periods, according to a UNESCO report. Depending on a few factors, that can add up to missing 20 percent of school days. Missing school means falling behind, and girls who never graduate experience a number of long-term negative consequences, including childhood marriage.