The financial inability to afford sanitary products, coupled with a lack of knowledge about menstruation, is called period poverty. The problem affects millions of young girls and women in South Africa every day – and yet there are ways to combat this social issue, while also assisting with job creation at the same time.

In Sandton, Johannesburg , Webhelp and the Co-op, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, have joined forces with Blossom Care Solutions to fight this national problem in a practical, holistic way.

The partnership will support the set-up of a Blossom factory in Sandton, employing six previously unemployed young women and producing enough pads to eliminate period poverty for thousands of school girls each year. The approach enables the empowerment of girls and women from both an individual as well as an economic perspective.

Shamiela Sarlie, Managing Director at Blossom Care Solutions, a social enterprise that exists to combat the issues brought about by period poverty in South Africa, while also investing in sustainable job creation, explains, “The overall impact of period poverty is to present even more obstacles to the learning and development of those young girls and women who are affected by it, when compared to their male counterparts.

“This, together with the social stigma that is still associated with menstruation in township and rural markets, causes additional social and economic disadvantages to those affected. This is why Blossom Care Solutions was established in 2019 as a mission-centric social enterprise: for women, by women.”

Claire Carroll, Head of Sales and Service at the Co-op, says: “We’re so pleased to offer support to Blossom Care Solutions, who are making strides in eliminating period poverty. At the Co-op, we believe in co-operating for a Fairer World. We’re proud to play a small part in helping to eliminate period poverty for thousands of women, while creating job opportunities at the Blossom factory.”

Cathy Kalamaras, Webhelp’s People Director of South Africa, adds: “Unemployment remains a pivotal issue in South Africa and as we continue to support initiatives which bring about meaningful change and build sustainable futures, it was a natural choice to become involved with Blossom.

“When we see the numbers of young girls and women in our more disadvantaged communities, who do not use sanitary pads or are occasional users, and look at new ways to alleviate the unemployment situation, the work of Blossom Care Solutions becomes even more vital. Acting responsibly and strengthening our communities to make a positive difference is key not just to Webhelp, but the partners we work with, which is why we’re proud to be supporting this initiative alongside the Co-op.