Project Stride

Helping women across the world reclaim their dignity by providing and empowering them to take care of their menstrual hygiene needs.

Photo of Karina
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  • Technology

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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Menstrual hygiene poverty pervades the lives of millions of impoverished women around the world. Fueled by antiquated social customs, taboos, and superstitions, it limits their access to opportunities and keeps them from realizing their dreams. The aim of my project is to provide free menstrual hygiene products to women in poor communities around the world, giving them a fighting chance to improve their health, dignity, and happiness.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

To alleviate this problem in local communities like homeless shelters that lack access to adequate resources, I have already initiated several programs to provide a regular and reliable supply of menstrual hygiene products such as pads and tampons through charity drives. To address this problem on a much broader scale, I have invented and obtained a patent for a novel menstrual cup that is designed to provide an economical, reusable and environment- friendly product for women that reduces their health risks, which I hope will revolutionize personal hygiene for women in impoverished communities around the world. I am also collaborating with an organization called Felicia’s Fund to provide free menstrual hygiene education and products in Nigeria and India this upcoming summer. Moving forward, I would like to continue to expand this program in cooperation with charitable and for-profit organizations. I am also exploring ways to collaborate with other inventors to create innovative and sustainable solutions that will provide inexpensive and safe menstrual hygiene products for women.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

The inspiration for my project came to me as I walked home one frigid winter day two year ago, when I was approached by a woman who appeared to be in some distress. With an imploring gaze and nervous voice, she asked me for a spare pad or tampon and then quickly looked away, as if trying to hide her shame from me. I was taken aback at this unusual request, but I gave her whatever supplies I had in my backpack. She responded with a “God bless you” full of profound gratitude that simply melted my heart. As I made my way home, I became bothered by the realization that there were still women, even in a rich country such as ours, who did not have access to the bare necessities of personal hygiene. It was at that moment that I knew I had to do something – I didn’t know how, but I knew I was going to take some action.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Let's make a change and empower women!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Aashna, a teenage girl in rural India, was often forced to miss school because the cost of menstrual products was too exorbitant for her poor family to afford. All she could do was to stay confined indoors during her period. She couldn’t even ask others for help for fear of being ridiculed or shamed. So, she did what other poor girls have done for ages – she rolled up dirty rags and newspaper to mimic a sanitary pad. One day, though, an educational program arrives in her village, teaching all people – men and women alike – about menstruation. Free menstrual cups are distributed to the women in the community. Slowly, Aashna and her other girl friends start attending school without any interruption, even when they are on their periods. They start excelling at school and become confident to express what they need for their personal hygiene without ever feeling ashamed.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

My project aims to alleviate menstrual hygiene poverty on an ambitious scale – not only within the US, but around the world. Rather than being a one-off endeavor, I am trying to cultivate partnerships for providing sustainable and reliable solutions for women. What makes my project unique is that I am also researching to understand the intricacies of individual cultures, which will allow me to tailor solutions that are easily accepted and assimilated by different communities, and will avoid my project being seen as imposing Western ideas with a savior mentality.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, I have worked with 5 homeless shelters within the D.C Area, collecting and donating over 7,000 pieces of menstrual hygiene product. I have also invented and obtained a patent for a novel menstrual cup that is designed to provide an economical, reusable and environment- friendly product for women. I have arranged two leaderships skills programs for members of LGBTQ community at the local shelters, helping them obtain skills to enter the job market and become productive members of the society. I have also taught a course on menstruation at a Girl’s Leadership Camp for low-income elementary and middle schoolers.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I’m looking for inexpensive machines that will allow rural women to produce their own menstrual products in a cottage-industry setting, which will also provide them with a means to be financially independent and overcome cultural taboos. I would also like to expand into education about menstruation to counties like Nigeria and India with the help of Felicia’s Fund. I am currently contacting factories to get quotes for the production of menstrual cup invented by me, and once these menstrual cups are under production, I will enter partnerships for its free distribution in impoverished communities in the US and overseas. I am hopeful that this product will revolutionize menstrual hygiene for poor women around the world.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Emi

I think it's great that you're fighting to provide women access to opportunity through addressing the stigma of menstruation. I think many projects aim to provide such opportunities while overlooking this roadblock.

I'm curious what makes your menstrual cup design unique from the many menstrual cups that are available on the market currently. The ability to manufacture it in the places where it is needed is perhaps the most impressive part of your project. Such an endeavor benefits the local community in terms of industry as well as addressing the original problem. I wish you the best of luck in this challenge!

Photo of Karina

Hey Emi!

Thanks for your kind comment and support. What makes my menstrual cup unique from the other available ones in the market is that it has a novel safety feature that prevents the risk of infections and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) to users.