The global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the strength of women around the world who are leading the response as doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers, farmers, public servants, volunteers and in many other essential roles. At the same time, the job loss resulting from pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and has left more than 743 million girls in 185 countries out of school.
In response, Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex brand are engaging consumers, communities and employees in a global effort, the Kotex She Can Initiative, to fight stigma within society, ensure access to education, and open doors for women and girls to pursue their dreams.
“The stigma attached to menstruation or simply the lack of access to products will keep millions of women and girls from pursuing dreams of becoming one of those heroes on the front lines,” said Juanita Pelaez, Vice President, Global Adult and Feminine Care for Kimberly-Clark. “The Kotex She Can Initiative is a long-term effort to build a future where a period never gets in the way of any woman’s progress.”
Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to menstrual hygiene was born from insights of women working as war-time nurses more than 100 years ago, who stitched together hygiene pads made from Kimberly-Clark’s cellucotton bandages so they could stay on the front lines during their period. When the Kotex brand was introduced in 1920, the stigma attached to menstruation required it to be sold in a plain blue box behind a pharmacy counter.
One hundred years later, the company and the Kotex brand remain focused on eliminating stigma, improving access and improving key outcomes for women and girls in the areas of education and overall health and wellness.
The Kotex She Can Initiative will focus its social impact of Kimberly-Clark’s feminine care brands in four key areas:
- Address lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and education, through the Alliance for Period Supplies and other efforts around the world;
- Partnership with Plan International to invest $2.5 million over three years into girl-centered solutions for basic menstrual hygiene management and education, reach a total of 1.6 million individuals and help women and girls confidently and comfortably manage their periods through our overarching partnership with Plan International;
- Enabling a supportive environment and increasing knowledge and skills for girls, boys and teachers to destigmatize menstruation; and
- Local brand-led efforts around the globe to open doors for women to pursue independent futures.
“For years, menstruation has kept girls and women from opportunities,” said Dr. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA. “Kotex and Plan have worked in partnership to dismantle the stigma associated with periods, while providing access to education to help women and girls in marginalized communities manage menstruation and improve hygiene. I’m beyond excited that we’re expanding this work. We’ve covered a lot of ground, but we still have ways to go.”
Kimberly-Clark and Kotex are sponsors of Menstrual Hygiene Day, a global awareness program launched by WASH United in 2014 to bring global attention to the lack of menstrual hygiene management access, education and sanitation affecting millions of women and girls. In the US, U by Kotex is the founding sponsor of the Alliance for Period Supplies, which is raising awareness through Period Poverty Awareness Week.
“Over the past five months, we’ve donated millions of Kotex products to COVID-19 response and relief efforts around the world,” added Pelaez. “We know that we can do more to help her rebuild the future of our communities, and the Kotex She Can Initiative will provide sustained support for women and girls whose futures can be changed through access to period supplies, community education and an independent future.”
To learn more about the Kotex She Can Initiative, visit https://www.kimberly-clark.com/kotex-she-can-initiative