Nonprofit Spotlight: PridePads

Outdoor Prolink partners with nonprofits every year to give back to organizations we align with. To honor these amazing nonprofits, we’re spotlighting each one and sharing why you should care about their missions too.

PridePads is a nonprofit close to the hearts of everyone at Outdoor Prolink. Mary Shackleton, wife of Outdoor Prolink’s CEO, co-founded PridePads and is currently the Vice President of the organization. Mary has always felt she needed to do something to alleviate the issues surrounding menstrual education and access to menstrual supplies in the third world. After a trip to Ghana with her daughter and PridePads co-founder Ajume Wingo, Mary was able to see first-hand how much menstrual education was needed in rural villages. Through her work with PridePads she has been able to see the light in women’s faces when they understand that menstruation is normal.

We had a chance to chat with the PridePads team to get the full scoop on the organization and the positive impact they’re having in Cameroon.

What’s the story behind PridePads?

Professor Ajume Wingo, a Prince from the Kingdom of Nso, was traveling by bus in his homeland of Cameroon, Africa, when he witnessed a young girl being ostracized by fellow travelers when she found herself menstruating for the very first time. Lack of education around menstruation led to this girl’s unnecessary humiliation and shame. After coming to her aid and explaining that menstruation is a normal process and nothing to be afraid of, he vowed to do all that he could to ensure that no other girl would experience that shame again.

This experience had such a profound impact on Ajume that he decided to start PridePads Africa, a 510(c)(3) committed to providing access to affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads, menstrual health education, and livelihood empowerment for girls and women in Cameroon, Africa. On average, rural schoolgirls miss four to six days of school every month while menstruating, which contributes to gender inequality, child marriage, and teenage pregnancy.

Having been raised in a matriarchal society, Ajume recognizes that the stigma surrounding menstruation and the lack of access to sanitary pads and proper feminine hygiene education has compromised women’s health and their opportunities for far too long. He hopes PridePads Africa inspires women around the world to unite in supporting its mission to help free girls from senseless obstacles and empower them to change their communities for the better.

What makes Pride Pads unique/sets the organization apart?

In the USA, when our daughters reach adolescence we embrace it. We celebrate it. We support them during this critical time as they navigate their way into womanhood. We hope they realize their potential. We hope they understand they can pursue their dreams. We don’t think about menstruation as being a barrier to education or better economic opportunities but it can be and it is. To thousands of girls throughout Africa and other developing countries this barrier exists and creates discrimination and gender inequality. At PridePads, we empower girls and keep them in school during their periods to ensure a brighter future.

What are some upcoming initiatives Pride Pads is working on?

Our end of year fundraising campaign will kick off November 14th. The campaign is called Break the Taboo in 2022: Menstruation. Education. De-Sensitization. 

Myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about periods feed into stigma which can be hugely damaging for many girls, women, and people who menstruate around the world. Due to the conversation around menstruation being suppressed, beliefs about people on their periods being unclean are widespread. This often leads to women and girls feeling confined to their homes, being excluded from public spaces, or considered to be bad luck or harmful to others for about a week every month.

Across Africa it is estimated that one in 10 girls will miss school when they have their periods, and can miss approximately 10-20% of school days – factors which can lead to them dropping out altogether. 

Our fundraising campaign will raise money and awareness to provide menstrual health education and free biodegradable pads to students in schools in rural Cameroon. We strive to ensure that Cameroonian women and girls can experience menstruation with confidence, dignity, and pride. 

How can the people of the outdoor industry support the work Pride Pads is doing?

  1. Talk openly about menstruation! Normalize period conversation with youth and adults, and between menstruators and non-menstruators alike as it’s a normal and healthy part of life. None of us would be here if it weren’t for periods!
  1. Stay updated and spread the word about PridePads’ work by: 
  1. Consider making a donation today

If Pride Pads was an ice cream flavor, which flavor would it be and why?

Raspberry sorbet— because periods!

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro

Kelly Knauf leads the marketing team at Outdoor Prolink. She is a mountain lover, outdoor enthusiast, and professional snack packer. By day she answers emails and writes content, by night she's plotting her next camping trip or snowboarding adventure.

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