Jones’ applied research impacts Ugandan lives

Jones’ applied research impacts Ugandan lives

The applied research impact of a project executed by year one program head Shelley Jones continues to grow and attract media coverage.

One of the findings from her research (2004-2005) with secondary schoolgirls in rural Uganda was that adolescent girls often miss up to 25% of their schooling due to a lack of sanitary materials to manage menstruation. Another researcher and colleague of Jones’, Carrie-Jane Williams, travelled to Uganda in 2006 with reusable cloth sanitary pads and patterns for making them, provided by the Vancouver-based company, Lunapads. The young women in Uganda were delighted to receive the pads, and two young social entrepreneurs who Williams met in Uganda – Sophia and Paul Grinvalds – recognized the potential to turn the challenge of menstruation for girls and women into an opportunity not only to produce sustainable sanitary materials, but also to provide important employment and business opportunities for girls and women.

After the success of their pilot project, the Grinvalds established Afripads in 2010. Afripads’ sanitary products have reached over 750,000 girls and women throughout Uganda and other African countries. Afripads has grown from a small operation that worked out of a village home to a thriving business with multiple manufacturing locations in Uganda, as well as offices in Kenya and Malawi. Afripads has over 200 employees – mostly girls and women who would otherwise have few, if any, employment opportunities. Three of the young women who participated in Jones’ study have worked with Afripads from its inception and now have senior roles in the company.

An article about the project, quoting Jones appeared in the Feb. 16 issue of Quebec Science.

More about her research can be found on the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) website.