The World Bank’s booklet, Overview Reversals of Fortune, Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020 projected that in 2020, between 88 and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty, with an additional increase between 23 and 35 million in 2021, potentially bringing the total number of new people living in extreme poverty to between 110 and 150 million. COVID-19 has created “millions of new poor”. Poverty has increased by around 38 percentage points (p.p.) among Jordanians, and by 18 p.p. among Syrian refugees. 79% of refugees already lived below the poverty line reported a joint study by the World Bank and UNHCR – Dec, 2020.
There are at least 4.2 million stateless people in the world. Women and girls make up around 50% of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population, reported UNHCR – Dec, 2020. In Oxfam’s research report, Menstrual hygiene management among Syrian refugee women in the Bekaa – 130 participants (women and girls) mentioned the problem of affordability of sanitary pads.
The Lebanese crisis has accentuated the issue of “Period Poverty”. As of early September, 2021 the UN estimates that around three in four of Lebanon’s 6.8 million people are living in poverty, from around 50% in 2020. The price of menstrual pads has risen by almost 500% since the start of a financial crisis the World Bank has dubbed likely one of the world’s worst since the 1850s. 76% of women and girls in Lebanon are having trouble getting menstrual supplies. Tens of thousands of women are now on a desperate hunt for affordable alternatives. Once unheard of in Lebanon, reusable pads are now gaining traction in the country in the retail sector as well as with various NGOs and social enterprises.
Individuals and entire communities have fled their homes in Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Most of those seeking refuge come from Syria. Around 5.6 million have been forced across the border into Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey while another 6.6 million have been displaced within Syria. The lack of adequate facilities, products and knowledge is usually exacerbated in refugee settings hence women often lack the ability to manage their menstruation safely and with dignity.
Reusable pads in this context have been gaining interest from development and humanitarian aid agencies, as a more sustainable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for MHM related challenges in emergencies, reported the UNHCR in a Pilot Study in Uganda.
On account of the refugee crises around the Arab world, as well as the pressures on disposable income, 8Se7en approached Hadayana Clothing Manufacturing and Trading Company last year to partner up on the creation and development of consumable products that would reduce the cost per household, starting with feminine hygiene products.
Over a period exceeding 12 months of development, the 8Se7en Hadayana collaboration evaluated products manufactured by suppliers to humanitarian aid agencies. Some retail products were also assessed for comparison purposes. Both companies were determined to manufacture a product that combines the advantages of reusable and disposable pads with high levels of absorption, resulting in LillyPads.
LillyPads is the first reusable feminine hygiene brand in the Middle East that will be mass-produced and exported from Jordan. 70% of the production population is comprised of refugees, women, and vulnerable youth between the ages of 18-24.