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Reflections on Menstrual Hygiene Day

In my role as Vice President of the Kimberly-Clark Foundation, I have the pleasure of working on projects that help the world’s most vulnerable people.   Through our annual contributions of $26M in cash and product, we strive to fulfill our corporate vision to lead the world in essentials for a better life through our social programs focused on maternal and child health, empowering women and girls and access to sanitation.

 Did you know that 2.3 billion people do not have access to decent sanitation?  Or that 1 in 3 women risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the bathroom?  Our work in the sanitation space is aspiring to help change these statistics. I have the privilege of serving as a steering committee member for the Toilet Board Coalition, which is a business led partnership with the ambition to help tackle the global sanitation crisis.  As a part of this role, Kimberly-Clark is mentoring a sanitation entrepreneur, Toilet Integration (or Ti for short), who is providing portable sanitation solutions for low income working women in India. Ti is converting out-of-service buses into stationary bathrooms for women. These buses are clean, smell good, have an attendant and have a host of other services that women need. Visiting a public toilet in India is typically not a pleasant experience. What is great about working with Ti is that they are challenging the norm with their buses and giving women the right that they deserve to not be shamed by being seen using a bathroom facility. 

 I reflect on this project today for a reason. May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day. I work for a company that makes tampons and pads (yes, I said tampon!). Nearly 71% of girls in India had no idea what was happening to them when they started their period. A third of those girls have no access to a clean safe bathroom, either at home or at school. No woman should have to struggle or feel ashamed to manage her period. The Ti buses are a first step in giving women the privacy and dignity that they deserve.

- Jenny Lewis, Vice President, Foundation at Kimberly-Clark Corporation

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