Just when you thought there could be no more revered – or feared – days of observance, along comes ‘World Toilet Day’ again to remind us how far we have NOT come. Our hopes were so high that the Gates Foundation would solve this dire dilemma, only to come up short like the last square on the roll. [ $40 million dollars in funding simply flushed with no viable solution
]. The basic facts remain unchanged that one in three women and girls lack even basic sanitation services. Over 2.5 billion people do not have access to a toilet.
What happens when sanitation isn’t available?
• Illness. [‘Diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.’](http://worldtoiletday.org/?p=64)
• Lost education. Girls are kept out of school during their menstrual cycle
• Missed opportunity. There’s money to be made, exactly how we’re not sure, I’m simply parroting something I’d read.
Leave it to [ women entrepreneurs
](who look for innovative solutions and great things happen! One of our new favorite products is the RubyCup Menstrual Cup. It’s a remarkable product that proves something needn’t be big to be mighty. [Girls all over the world are headed back to the classroom because of the innovation that costs less than $30 and lasts for ten years.](http://shop.ruby-cup.com/en) Even Tampax can’t say that!
I had the opportunity to ask Maxie Matthiessen, one of RubyCup’s Founders some questions and she had quite a bit to say.
Q: As three entrepreneurs you could have done anything, what made you focus on [Ruby Cup](http://www.ruby-cup.com/en/)?
A: Millions of girls and women from underprivileged backgrounds in developing countries face problems when they menstruate because they cannot afford disposable products every month. Instead they use whatever they have at hand, such as bark, mud, newspaper, cloth, and pieces of mattress. As a result, girls are absent from school and women from work because they are afraid of leaking. This amounts up to 20% of career opportunities and quality of life lost.
Menstruation should not be a problem for any woman or girl, no matter where she lives. But today, menstruation is categorized as an overlooked problem that hinders achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal education and gender equality (Source: UNDP). At the same time, you have such a simple solution, the Ruby Cup menstrual cup, that could provide a solution to this need. Seeing this enormous need for sustainable and affordable menstrual hygiene products in Kenya and other developing countries on the one side, and knowing about such a simple solution on the other made us choose Ruby Cup. With it, we are able to create the highest impact. It just made sense. It is such a simple solution to a big problem.
Q: How do you explain the product to people who've never seen one?
A: Ruby Cup is a long-lasting and healthy alternative to tampons. After using one for the first time it becomes clear that it has just so many benefits compared to other products:
a) Unlike a tampon, Ruby Cup does not absorb menstrual fluid. Therefore, it does not cause dryness or bears the risk of leftover fibers or unnatural residues. As a result, Ruby Cup is a healthier and safer solution for maintaining the vagina's natural bacteria balance.
b) Ruby Cup is small and convenient to carry in the handbag, so a woman can always be ready for unexpected arrival of the period. During the period Ruby Cup is emptied according to the heaviness of the menstrual flow. It has a large capacity and can be worn up to 12 house.
c) Imagine all the waste created from disposable tampons and pads, and the resources used to make them. On average, a woman uses 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime. Ruby Cup has a positive environmental impact and eliminates the waste otherwise created.
d) A Ruby Cup is a very affordable alternative to disposable menstrual hygiene products. As a one-off investment that will last up to 10 years, the cost-savings compared to disposables are significant.
Q: You've had great success in Kenya, what are your plans for expansion?
A: We are planning on expanding to Uganda in 2014
Q: What's the WORST alternative you've heard of being used in place of feminine care?
A: Dried mud and newspaper which leads to serious genital infections
Q: Your hopes are for every girl to have access to affordable quality feminine hygiene products, now matter their location, how long do you think before that dream is realized?
A: We hope that menstrual hygiene will become a human right and that every girl on this planet can go to school without having to worry about staining her clothes. 2020 is the goal.
Q: Are there any new products you're excited about you'd like to share?
A: Yes, we recently added the Ruby Sterilizer to our product portfolio (http://shop.ruby-cup.com/en) but much more to come at the end of 2014. So exciting!