Menstrual cups - a sustainable way to achieve economic benefits in Kenya : How to empower women in a society with only small measures
Abstract: This bachelor thesis is based on a field study conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, and intends to elucidate the systematic crimes against humanity that the inability to handle menstruation properly causes every day. Women who live under poor circumstances and lack access to basic needs, such as sanitary facilities and running water are the ones who suffer the most. Menstruating women are victims of not only physical and mental abuse, but also the stigma and neglect pervading the subject. This leads to the exclusion of women, both in school and at work, which in turn causes negative economic effects for the whole society. Besides elucidating the substantial economic and health consequences that menstruation can result in, the purpose of the thesis is to examine the market conditions in Nairobi and suggest sustainable solutions for menstrual cups. The menstrual cup is a durable product that might improve the situation for both women and the society, because of its suitable features. The study focuses on the informal settlements of Nairobi, and the purpose is not to examine other informal settlements or rural areas in Kenya. This is a qualitative study, primarily based on a field study, profound interviews, as well as a limited survey. To achieve the purpose, we have tried to answer questions concerning the fundamental conditions for the current market of menstrual cups; the conditions for an increase in demand; and what a well-functioning structure for the menstrual cup would be. Besides answering these research questions, the methods were necessary in order to get an understanding of the conditions in Nairobi. The interview respondents represent both the consumers and the producers, with the purpose of getting a wider perspective regarding the market conditions. The questionnaire targeted the parents and caretakers, whom are the economic decision makers in the households. The aim was to get a comprehension about the life situations and economic conditions characterising the informal settlements, but also to get a general idea about the attitude towards the menstrual cup, since the product is rather unfamiliar. The current market structure is characterised by charity organisations who distribute the menstrual cups for free. Their main concept is to educate young girls and secure a better future for them by securing the supply of menstrual management products. The study has shown the biggest challenge to overcome is the inability to pay, however, the result shows there are different possible solutions for producers and distributors to approach the market of menstrual cups. Instalments, price discrimination, Multi-Level Marketing, governmental subsidies and sponsoring from global organisations are some of the proposed strategies discussed in this thesis. A sustainable market solution is necessary to utilise the positive externalities that emerges from menstrual cup usage, and satisfy the need for good quality menstrual management products in Nairobi in the long run. Today, because the cup usage is low, the positive externalities are lost, resulting in deadweight losses. In conclusion, there are several possible market strategies for both incumbents and potential new entrants. The study has also found that menstrual health does not get enough recognition by neither national authorities, nor global actors, like the United Nations. This matter needs to be acknowledged in order to improve the conditions for millions of women suffering from menstrual related problems today.
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