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My Name is Grace: Redefining Menstrual Care through Reusable Sanitary Pads  

My name is Grace Baren. I am a mother of three children living in Fwil village of Vwang, in Jos town, Nigeria. Since I was young, I have experienced insurmountable challenges, including being forced to drop out of school, being forced into marriage, and experiencing violence. But everything changed...  

Its height was in 2012. I had just visited my mother with my children. We were in the house when we suddenly heard gunshots. Gunmen had raided our village. They instructed women and children to gather at the village center. After a while, our traditional horn was blown, indicating danger; we were asked to run and hide. I was pregnant then; I held my children tight and ran as far as my legs would take me.  

When I saw an old man entering the river to hide, I joined him. Using one hand to hold my daughter while my son was on my back, I held on to a plant with thorns so the water would not carry us away.

We stayed in the river till the next day, and by the time we returned to our village, most of the houses were burned to the ground, including our home, properties, and even the silo where we stored grains.  

Grace and her children
Grace and her children. Credit: WfWI

I took my children to a military checkpoint for the night, as we had nowhere to go. The next day, we went to my aunt's house in the Gyel community. My aunt was overjoyed to see us, especially after my husband had been searching for us, and he even feared that we had been killed in the attack. My husband took us home the following day. 

In 2016, tragedy struck once more as my husband passed away, leaving me to care for my children amidst rejection and hardship. A few months after he was buried, I was forced to marry his younger brother by the larger family. I refused to do it, so I was forced to go back to my mother's place. Determined to change my fate, I started selling rice cakes and joined a tailoring program for widows in my community to take care of my children. 

While working in the market, I noticed incredible transformations in women I knew who took part in the Women for Women International program. It was a powerful reminder of the impact the program could have on a woman like me. I fervently prayed for another opportunity. In May 2023, my prayers were answered when WfWI returned to enroll more women. I was fortunate to be selected for the second group.

I could not wait to return to the classroom after so many years. I gained valuable skills and nurtured great connections with other women.  

With the knowledge gained from the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program, I was selected for a two-week training on reusable menstrual pads. Alongside other nine participants, I learned about the production, packaging, and branding of eco-friendly reusable menstrual pads. This experience was incredibly rewarding. After completing the training, I used the acquired skills to make my reusable pads in the comfort of my home. 

Grace and her pads 2
Grace working on her pads production. Credit: WfWI

Getting this skill is an outstanding achievement, as I have always been concerned about how women and girls in my community manage menstrual hygiene. Most of them use unhygienic materials like rags, leaves, and even cow dung because they cannot afford disposable sanitary pads. This practice exposes them to various health problems that are difficult to treat. Through the training, I have managed to educate them on the dangers of using these unhygienic materials and introduced them to reusable sanitary pads made from healthy materials. These pads are durable, washable, and can be reused for many, many months. I have successfully marketed and sold several packs, each having two wings and five flannels, making a profit from it. 

Now, I work with other group members, exchanging ideas on marketing strategies and ways to reach a larger market for our innovative product. We are confident that we will make considerable progress over time. I am also teaching my two daughters how to produce the pads, and my eldest daughter, Christiana, who is in secondary school, uses the pads. She also educates the girls in her school on menstrual hygiene.

Besides the profit I make, improving menstrual hygiene in my community is a significant achievement for me. 


A woman, Cinama, stands and smiles proudly. Behind her is a foundation of bricks
Your monthly gift of $35 provides a woman with skills to support her family and creates sustainable change.