What if you had to make your own sanitary pads?

25 May 2019



By gathering people together to design and make their own sanitary pads, Design for Dignity explores what it means to be a woman living without access to essential feminine hygiene.

Design for Dignity is an event organised in the lead-up to Menstrual Hygiene Day to raise awareness of the challenges faced by women and girls in refugee camps around managing their period.

We asked each person to bring an old piece of clothing with them on the night. There were a lot of surprised reactions when people found out they would be using it to make their own sanitary pad!

In emergency situations, feminine hygiene is often overlooked. Many women and girls don’t have access to basic hygiene - like sanitary pads, clean underwear and soap.  

Making pads using old clothing highlights the fact that without access to sanitary pads, women and girls in camps are forced to resort to using rags or other unsafe materials when they bleed. This not only leads to shame and embarrassment, but is unhygienic and can cause infection.

Dulce Muñoz - mother, feminist, refugee advocate and the National Convener of Mums4Refugees Sydney - was a guest speaker on the night. Credit: Ben Littlejohn/Act for Peace

Janet Cousens, Act for Peace CEO, spoke about her experience visiting Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh. Jamtoli is a large, crowded and dusty refugee camp. After everything they've gone through, the Rohingya women and girls living there now face enormous difficulties managing their hygiene.
Periods is a topic that still makes many people uncomfortable. Sitting down together with fabric, glue and scissors helped to open up the conversation surrounding menstruation and the challenges women and girls in refugee camps face every day to maintaining their dignity.

Just a few of the wildly creative designs that people came up with. Want to see more? The finished pads will be on display at 107 Projects in Redfern until the end of June.

Share the dignity

Support women and girls living as refugees by giving a 'bucket of dignity'.  A dignity kit contains underwear, sanitary pads, clothing, a torchlight and soap. This simple gift can help courageous women and girls who have survived unimaginable horrors and continue to face hardship everyday to maintain their dignity, and ensures one of their most basic needs is met. 


I will share the dignity