Liberian man championing menstrual hygiene
Many girls from poor homes continue to miss school due to lack of sanitary towels. In order to bridge this gap, Payless Cloth Pad, a Liberian manufacturing company is producing quality and affordable reusable menstrual pads. We spoke to the founder, Augustine K. Kou.
According to Unesco, one in every 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa skips classes during their menstrual cycle. These statistics inspired Augustine Kou to take action in order to see that no girl in Liberia misses school during her menses.
Augustine is an aspiring entrepreneur with long experience in addressing challenges of development. He has been instrumental in shinning a light on SDGs 5, Women Empowerment and Security.
In order to empower women in his community, Augustine initiated several women empowerment projects, ‘I Learn to Earn’ is one inspiring project providing free tailoring training to vulnerable female population.
Through Payless Cloth Pad, Augustine seeks to address period poverty through the production of quality and affordable reusable menstrual pads and through community and radio awareness. “We seek to produce quality eco-friendly sanitary pads that will be widely used and recommended,” he said.
Having witnessed rural Liberian women use rags, banana leaves or even squat over dug pit to eliminate bodily fluid, and some would isolate themselves because of period shame Augustine thought this was unacceptable at this age.
As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene Day today, Payless Cloth Pad is bridging the gap of access to sanitary towels among girls in Liberia. To date, Payless Cloth Pad has reached in its first six months 700 women and girls directly with reusable sanitary pads and over 1000 women and girls with menstrual hygiene management information.
needs more sewing machines to meet current demand for the reusable pads. “We also need vehicles (motor bikes & tri cycles) to be able to commute in distant places and assist our rural delivery team to be able to deliver pads to our many customers,” he says.
Asked what he would want to be remembered for, Augustine says: “I want to be remembered for my genuine dedication whether small, to healing my community of the little things that matter, that some don’t see to be a matter.”
Payles Cloth Pad is a recipient of the National Orange Social Venture Prize 2019 for Africa and the Middle East, winning awards for the 2nd Place Winner, Best Women Empowerment Business Idea, Orange Entrepreneur’s Club Project, and Most Popular Online Vote. Payless Cloth Pad was also selected as one of the 10 best businesses out of more than 30 businesses in the Global competition of the Orange Social Venture Prize.
The organization is partnering with US Peace Corps-Liberia through Stephen Stauffer its national gender coordinator and Ty McCoy-Education Volunteer, Liberia’s Ministry of Education (through Liberia Menstrual Hygiene Stakeholders) and other local community health initiatives such as Actions for Community Health Empowerment (ACHEM).