Mia van der Merwe
By now, almost everyone would have seen the purple scrunchies and ribbons adorning the bags, ponytails, and necks of those on the Stellenbosch University (US) campus. These eye-catching accessories were bound to raise questions, and purposefully so. They are the trademark of 60 Cycles Project, a non-profit organisation in collaboration with Santa Shoebox.
Their ultimate vision is to provide specialised sanitary pads to underprivileged schoolgirls in Malawi. These pads apparently last several menstrual cycles.
Minette Pieters, 60 Cycles co-founder, says the pads are made up of six material layers with a durable outer layer made from 100% cotton. The pad clips onto an undergarment and can be used for roughly 5 years, making it suitable for 60 menstrual cycles. This accomplishment is proudly emphasised in through the name of the Project. 60 Cycles hope to encourage school attendance amongst Malawian girls by providing them with sanitary products that will enable them to go to school during a menstrual cycle.
According to extensive research and fieldwork done by Liza Hugo, 60 Cycles co-founder, the girls don’t attend school when they have their period which results in them missing roughly a week’s worth of schoolwork each month. The 60 Cycles team is working hard to raise the money needed to provide these girls with the necessary sanitary items.
Hugo says that the team is completely dependent on huge organisational donations, seeing as the purple ribbons and scrunchies are purely to create awareness and does not even make a dent in the necessary funds.
According to Peters, future plans for the Project includes taking in volunteers, providing basic sex education in Malawi, and expanding to South Africa.
To donate and raise awareness, visit their Instagram @60cyclesproject.