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essays • stories
interviews • poetry • art

The beginnings


Panties with Purpose started off as a campaign in 2011 to help a 1000 girls in Kibera with four pairs of pants and menstrual products and to raise awareness about girls in poor areas of Kenya missing five days a month of school because of no access to menstrual products. 

Our decision to collect pants, instead of monetary donations was based on the idea that if people had to buy pants to donate to us, they were bound to talk about it with their friends. Our strategy worked. Within three months we had collected over 40,000 pairs of underpants from different cities around the world. At the time, more than ten years ago, the phrase period poverty had not been coined. Today, menstruation is much more openly talked about in some societies, with a few governments distributing free products in schools, and some companies providing access to period leave.

Still, currently on any given day, more than 800 million people around the world are menstruating, with 500 million of them not having access to proper menstrual products or sanitation facilities. The environmental impact of non biodegradable pads collecting in landfills is unimaginable. The taboo and stigma around menstruation still persists. If every home, school, office, and factory became period friendly- things could change. Just be kind to a person who has their period, let them rest if they need it, buy menstrual products or pain medication for them if they require it, be patient with them. Their bodies, our bodies pass through a cycle every month.