University students from Edinburgh tackle period poverty

University students from Edinburgh are revolutionising the global issue of period poverty with their growing social enterprise, Sanitree

By Annabelle Gauntlett
Monday, 27th June 2022, 11:22 am
Women from Sanitree volunteering in Jaipur
Women from Sanitree volunteering in Jaipur

Sanitree is a social enterprise founded in 2017 by undergraduate students from Edinburgh University and sponsored by Enactus Edinburgh.

The company dedicates its work to producing ethical, sustainable and reusable sanitary products to girls suffering from period poverty globally.

With the cooperation of Sanitree, Scotland passed the free period products provision bill in November 2020, making the UK the first country in the world to make period products accessible to all.

Sanitree participating in COP-26

The Sanitree Team said: “We are very proud to have been at the forefront of the campaign alongside Monica Lennon and to be making a difference.”

The Founder and Director of Sanitree, Ishu Shiva, said: “Sanitree is very close to my heart, providing a holistic approach to many problems of menstruators across the globe”.

Whilst the project was founded in Edinburgh, Sanitree soon expanded into Jaipur, India, to create a workspace and community centre whereby nine beneficiaries are employed from marginalised communities, in flexible and part-time work.

The women based in the ‘Her Shakti Centre’ in India come from various disadvantaged backgrounds, many widows and single mothers trying to support their families, and some, victims of domestic violence.

Sanitree employees based in their 'Her Shakti Centre'

By employing them, Sanitree wish to give them both a source of income, as well as help them learn new skills. There are those who now have a secure income and flexible hours working as seamstresses of the pads.

Muskan Batra, the Community Outreach Officer based in Jaipur said: “Sanitree gives me that opportunity to enhance my skills and work for our society.”

University student and co- project leader, Frances Roberts said: “Period poverty stigma is a universal issue, particularly in undeveloped countries such as India, however, the UK is still suffering backlash as 1 in 10 girls can’t afford sanitary products.

“This proves that no matter a country's economic status, it has always been an issue.”

She continued: “Our pads address so many issues in one product. We even focus on the disposal of sanitary pads due to countries like India struggling with this, therefore we produce reusable products that can last up to two years.”

Sanitree’s focuses their development on 13 objectives: no poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production and climate action being a priority with the development of sustainable sanitary products.

While the organisation has expanded, Sanitree continues to employ university students from Edinburgh to maintain its growth through awareness campaigns in Scotland.

Edinburgh’s Sanitree centre will be recruiting for more volunteers to pioneer the development of period poverty.