Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


Menstrual health management (MHM) poses a significant public health concern in many South African communities. Though the national government is beginning to devote attention and resources to MHM, civil society organizations play a critical role in providing menstrual health products and education to female-bodied individuals who may otherwise lack access. This study examines the praxis and impact of Project Dignity, a nongovernmental organization which distributes washable, reusable sanitary pads and panties to students in public schools. The researcher collected qualitative data through participant observation as well as interviews and focus group discussions with Project Dignity’s staff and intended beneficiaries. Using participatory development as a theoretical lens, the study evaluates the organization’s impact on students’ educational experiences and menstrual health practices. Findings illustrate the practicality of the pads and panties and suggest a limited but positive effect on students’ understanding of menstruation and ability to manage their periods comfortably at school. The researcher outlines recommendations for Project Dignity and suggestions for further research.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Health and Physical Education | Health Communication | Health Policy | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Health | Women's Studies


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