Although Hilo Sagrado has been working with the Wayúu communities for 5 years to help reduce food and water insecurity, ensure local children have access to education schemes, and increase the incomes of the traditional artisans, one aspect of gender and social inequity that we haven’t yet tackled is menstrual inequality.
For the Wayúu women, conventional period products are a luxury that they can’t afford. Not only are they far out of their budget, but they’re often impossible to source due to the remoteness of the communities. And so, instead of pads, local women rely on inefficient pieces of fabric and are forced to stay at home for the whole of their cycle to avoid being seen with stained clothing. Not only does this isolate the women from their friends and families, but it stops them from working, earning money, and reaching their full potential. For us at Hilo Sagrado, it became clear that if we want the Wayúu communities to achieve gender equality and to help local women feel liberated and free, we have to find a sustainable solution to this monthly issue.
And that’s why we’re launching a new project called Glow With the Flow. Alongside the Abury Foundation, Kora Mikino, and Somos Martina, we will be constructing a new workshop where 16 women will be taught how to sew and how to make reusable menstrual underwear. Not only will this new workshop be a community space where the women can gather and work together, but it will start by providing a total of 174 women much-needed period products and the sale of the underwear will generate another source of income for the families of this community.
We all believe that reusable menstrual underwear are key to the future of period products. Each pair of panties can be used, washed and reused for many years. Not only will this allow the Wayúu women to not have to worry about finding period products and save money, but it will also allow them to reduce the environmental impact of their periods. On average, a person will go through 11-15,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime, most of which will end up in landfills. A single pad takes over 500 years to decompose! Conventional sanitary pads don’t only have huge ecological consequences, but the plastics and toxic chemicals (dioxins) las often used in their production are also believed to increase the risk of some health problems, including inflammation, allergic reactions, and hormonal dysfunction.
However, we need your help! In order to fund this project, which we are eventually hoping to spread to indigenous and tribal communities around the world, we have launched a fundraising campaign. If you too want to help bring these women one step closer to our end goal of gender equality and to empower the Wayúu women to transform their periods into a source of dignity and pride, please consider buying some of our beautiful Wayúu-made products or donating to our crowdfunding page!