An Ethiopian chemical Engineer, Frewini Mebrahtu who is working on ensuring African girls feel secured when menstruating by creating her reusable pads has being awarded 2019 CNN Hero of the Year .
Since the commencement of the reusable pads production nearly 800,000 girls have benefited from the scheme and has won her a great award.
Mebrahtu is not only changing the shame-giving narrative of menstruation, she is also making it more affordable for girls to take charge of their health.
Speaking with the CNN, she talked about how she got really scared when she had her first period at age 13 and had to suffer in solitary like most girls her age in Ethiopia.
During this time, and without access to sanitary pads, she sought the option of using rags, recalling how ashamed she felt. She would grow from that little scared child to a chemical engineer after she went for study in the United States.
Frewini Mebrahtu said when she started no one believed she could do it and had to struggle with funds.
In 1983, America changed her view as her first visit to the drugstore offers a wide variety of sanitary pads. “I saw overwhelming choices of sanitary pads. I started thinking … ‘What about the girls that I left behind?’” she said.
CNN reports that the situation surrounding menstruation is so bad that one in 10 girls miss school for monthly menstrual issues. Mebrahtu’s concern for the well-being of the girl child drove her to create a reusable menstrual pad under Mariam Seba Sanitary Product Factory which has seen over 700,000 girls benefit.
Most of her products are sold to non-governmental organisations so that they could be distributed for free. Ex-beauty queen Dabota Lawson gives ladies advice on the kind of rich men to go for She said that the whole idea was not only to make pads at an affordable rate but to also deal with the negative stereotype that surrounds menstruation.
“When I started back in 2005, no one was talking about this. It was a struggle. It took me two years to get financing for the project because they didn’t think anyone would buy it. “I had to convince them that this is a basic necessity. It wasn’t easy, but I thought, ‘Someone has to do this. If I don’t do it, no one will,’” she said.
For winning the 2019 CNN Hero of the year she will receive a whopping amount of $100,000 (N36,150,000) to put into her work.