It's not exactly breaking news for me to declare that periods suck, and I don't even need to go into all the reasons why (bloating, fatigue, just the general unpleasantness of having blood pouring out of my vagina like Niagara Falls). For many women around the world, however, having your period is more than just a mere annoyance; it actually prevents them from attending school or work for one whole week every month. That's why Marisabel Ruiz started SHEVA, a company that is empowering women in developing countries, one period at a time by providing them with a free month's supply of sanitary products and educating them about their bodies. If you were looking for a reason to stop buying your pads and tampons at a convenience store (aside from the price tag, that is), look no further — because this is what you've been waiting for.
Before I get too gush-y, let me explain what SHEVA does. After learning that many women in developing countries are often forced to miss school and work due to a lack of access to sanitary products — frequently resulting in women dropping out of school or getting pregnant at young ages — Ruiz was inspired to do something about it. She started SHEVA in 2012, creating a place for women not only to get the sanitary products they need and do some good at the same time. Basically, you can go online to Sheva.com and find a lot of your favorite pad/tampon brands (they also sell lubricants, pregnancy tests, condoms, and more) — and for every purchase made on the site, a month's supply of sanitary products is given to girls in third world countries. How freaking amazing is that?
And if you're sitting at the computer, muttering, "Yeah, but one-for-one models don't address the underlying causes of issues in many developing countries and can actually create a bunch of problems," you can relax knowing that there's a lot more to SHEVA than just giving away free tampons. SHEVA is partnering with local NGOs like anti-poverty organizations and girls' homes to set up two-year education programs that teach girls about feminine hygiene, help build self-esteem, and more. They're not just setting up these programs and peacing out; SHEVA is also staying on board throughout the duration to make sure that girls have continued access to products and monitor things like school attendance. So far, SHEVA has been focusing its efforts on Guatemala where Ruiz was born and raised; eventually, though, she hopes to expand into other regions, especially Europe and Asia. Who knew periods could be so powerful?
Furthermore, SHEVA is looking to the future, too: The company is working with local university health centers to set up programs to help girls learn to make pads and tampons that are safe and biodegradable, which would help increase access and could also create jobs for women. I mean, is there anything they aren't doing? I don't know about anybody else, but I'm pretty convinced that I need to be buying my monthly supplies from SHEVA. You can make a one-time order, or even set your account up to receive supplies every month so you never have to worry about running out (I swear, these ladies have thought of everything). And, right now you can get free shipping and 30 percent off during the month of March, in honor of Women's History Month. So, what are you waiting for?
Images: Sheva.com (3); Giphy