Changemaker: Laura Maisvoreva
Country of Implementation: Zimbabwe
12-year-old Chiedza finds herself missing school and having to spend the week in an uncomfortable way as she is using a homemade “pad” made from cow dung because she cannot afford sanitary pads. It is estimated that one in 10 girls in Africa will miss school when they have their periods. Due to economic hardship, girls find themselves resorting to extremes in order to combat a process that comes naturally.
As medical students in Zimbabwe, we took note of this rising pandemic within our communities. We
asked ourselves how best could we tackle this problem. Hence the birth of the Atumbuka project.
Atumbuka is a Zimbabwe Medical Students Association (ZiMSA) initiative that aims to create gender equality (SDG number 5) by ensuring that the girl child is offered the same opportunities and is not left behind due to her physiological makeup.
ZiMSA is a body that represents medical students from all the Medical schools in Zimbabwe.
The Atumbuka project achieves its goals by going to low-income schools and communities and
educating both girls and boys on menstrual health. As young passionate aspiring medical practitioners, we believe we deliver menstrual education in a way young individuals would be more comfortable and interact. Atumbuka’s key focus areas are the reduction of period poverty and education on menstrual health and hygiene.
The Atumbuka initiative trains groups of women and young girls so to provide them with a scientific-
based knowledge of their health and rights, as well as self-management, elaboration, and use of their own supplies, of personal hygiene in a sustainable way. Atumbuka, which in Shona translates to “She has blossomed”, serves as a way to educate young girls on how to be sustainable when it comes to their reproductive health. We do this by providing tutorials on how to make reusable sanitary pads. In Zimbabwe due to economic hardships, not everyone can afford disposable pads on a monthly basis.
For more information on Atumbuka and ZiMSA you can visit the ZiMSA website: