A Conceptual Female Hygiene Product : Developed from Needs and Prerequisites in an Agricultural East African Context
Menstruation is a large problem for females in development countries today. Studies have shown that around 40 percent of menstruating girls have been absent from school due to their menstruation. One of the challenges that need to be solved is the absence of female hygiene products amongst women, especially in low income and developing countries due to the cost of commercial products. In countries where the national economy is unstable or poorly comes a problem with importing products, it would be better if they could produce their own products so that the national economy is supported. Small factories and production sites that produce female hygiene products have started to form in some areas. This shows that it is possible to produce in the context where the product is going to be sold. One of the advantages of this system is from the environmental perspective, many of the local production sites use environmentally friendly materials and some products are up to 95 percent bio-degradable. The purpose of this thesis is to develop a concept for a sustainable female hygiene product that women in developing countries can afford to buy, this so that social effects can be enabled due to the security that a functioning protection can bring. To be able to do so a field study in Uganda has been conducted. During the study users and local producers were interviewed to find out what demands and prerequisites there are to create a female hygiene product that can be produced and used locally. The field study gave a deeper understanding and knowledge about both the subject as whole and the technical aspects to take into consideration when developing a female hygiene product. The study confirmed that female hygiene products, or rather the lack of them, are a big problem that needs to be solved quickly. It also revealed that the possibilities for producing in the context existed but was not developed enough. Through an analysis of the empirical findings as well as theories about, for example, material and production, six concepts were developed. The concepts and already existing products were evaluated and correlated to requirements collected in the field study. One concept was chosen for further development from this evaluation. This concept consists of a disposable napkin that is fastened by putting it in holders sewn in the panty. The panty can be bought as a product with existing holders or the holders can be sewn into the users own panties. The final concept has taken both technical aspects and social effects into account. Lists of requirements on material for the concept as well as the production of it are also included in the work. A prototype of the concept has been sewn and tested. The final concept in this work is not a finished product and needs further developing before being released as a product. More work need to be done on specifying the production and specific materials to implement the concept. For further developing, it is also important to have in mind in what context the product would be used due to the different possibilities and demands that the setting gives.
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