In a small factory in Kayamandi township, Stellenbosch, a group of 7 women are doing so much more than producing quality, re-usable sanitary pads. They are restoring dignity whilst, at the same time, creating products that protect the environment. Lady Talk Matters is about exactly this: It matters to talk about the things that matter to women.

Lady Talk Matters is a global charity foundation founded by Andrea Turkovic. Andrea, who divides her time between Stellenbosch, South Africa and Chamonix, France describes the vision of the charity, which is to improve the lives of girls and women by normalising female reproductive matters. This is achieved through education and awareness around female reproductive health, inspiration, and support.

After navigating her own reproductive health challenges in 2017, Andrea realised that young women were not being adequately informed about matters relating to their reproductive health, specifically the need for screenings such as pap smears and information about menstrual conditions such as endometriosis. She also became aware of the need for general reproductive health education, removing the taboo around discussing women’s reproductive functions, and improving access to sanitary resources.

In South Africa, one of the focus areas of Lady Talk Matters is providing education on menstrual and female reproductive health to young learners. Wendy Ncapa from Kayamandi township in Stellenbosch is employed and skilled by Lady Talk Matters. Wendy presents these education sessions, explaining that the programme is tailored for young people from Grade 4/5 to Grade 7. The presentations are aligned with the current South African Life Orientation curriculum and is presented in a straightforward and factual manner. Wendy goes on to say that taboo around menstruation begins at this early age when boys and girls are separated during Life Orientation classes. It reinforces the impression that women’s reproductive health matters are shameful and secretive. By providing education to both boys and girls, this taboo can be removed to allow for open conversation.

Together with education, Lady Talk Matters works to ensure that basic sanitary products are provided to women and girls in need. One way of doing this is through the sale of re-usable sanitary pads. The sanitary packs are ethically manufactured in a small factory in Kayamandi, currently employing 7 women who are trained to make these durable products. Andrea emphasises the importance of using quality raw materials to ensure that the products are not only long-lasting, but also safe to use, even in under resourced settings. The pads are made using a leak-proof backing layer, a microfibre core, and a bamboo charcoal layer that has both antimicrobial and anti-odour properties. The packs of pads contain 3 standard length and 1 extra-length pad (for night time use) and with proper care, can last for up to 3 years. The clever waterproof bag also provides the user with extra dignity as it can be used to store used pads until they can be washed.

Lady Talk Matters’ re-usable sanitary pad packs are available for purchase at the CoCreate Hub, and the purchase of these products is used to manufacture packs to be distributed to women or girls unable to afford them. By giving women and girls dignity and providing them with the information they need to advocate for their own reproductive and sexual health, Lady Talk Matters is working towards their mission of living in a world where everyone, regardless of sex, age, race, or socio-economic status, is able to talk openly about female reproductive matters.

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Images: Lizelle Lötter Photography