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Red Code Initiative

Posted by Trish Taylor on


What is the Red Code Initiative?

We believe that a one's period should be a celebration, not a burden. A time where one is able to reconnect with and show gratitude towards their body. However, for many people, access to safe, hygienic sanitary products is an ongoing struggle. This can negatively impact one’s mental and physical health as well as their access to education and income. We are therefore raising funds to employ seamstresses to sew reusable pads for menstruators living in Ocean View and Masiphumelele. All proceeds will go directly towards helping those who menstruate to manage their period. We thank you for your support and wish you safety during these uncertain times. Follow us on Instagram for updates - @coderedinitiative
Why is it important?
- Mental Health
While menstruation is something entirely natural, there are increasing negative associations with this time of the month as it can be a stressful and draining experience, leaving people feeling disempowered and shamed. Above and beyond the existing emotional factors and spike in hormones while menstruating, much time and energy is wasted on the stresses around navigating how to manage your period with limited resources and no access to toilets. In addition to these stresses, there is a level of stigma associated with having your period and many young people do not have a safe space to talk about it or seek emotional support.
- Physical Health
When there are no available sanitary products, impoverished and desperate people may resort to using unsafe substitutes that are unhygienic and often ineffective. In some cases when women do have access to limited products, they may resort to using products beyond their recommended time span or even reusing products designed for once-off use. None of these solutions are particularly safe or sanitary and could impact the health and well-being of impoverished young women.
- Education
Lack of access to toilets and sanitary products causes 1 in 10 menstruators in Africa to stay home from school when menstruating. This tends to lead to people with lower grades with less of a chance at qualifying for tertiary education, thereby limited future career options and ultimately a decrease in their quality of life. In addition, many young people have very little access to information regarding the menstrual cycle and safe period practices. There is a deep fear of the embarrassment from leakages or being caught unprepared. 
- Income
The problem of people missing school when menstruating translates into them missing work when they have their period for many of the same reasons. This poor work attendance directly results in those who menstruate being less productive in a work space if absent for the course of their period and may impact their ability to earn a stable income. If everyone who menstruates had access to sanitary products, they would be more able to continue their work as normal instead of staying home and being subject to feelings of hopelessness or despair over unemployment. The cultural shame surrounding menstruation greatly impacts one's ability to go about their normal lives when menstruating. Gender income inequality also sees women, who are often earning less, having less money to spend on much needed sanitary products.