About This Project

It is estimated that up to 23% of schoolgirls miss school during their menstrual periods in Sierra Leone. In Phase 1 of our field research we found that lack of access to adequate menstrual hygiene resources is one of the main reasons for missing school. Baseline data collection is currently underway. We are ready to start Phase 2 of the study which will focus on evaluating the effects of providing reusable pads on educational and subjective outcomes.

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What is the context of this research?

In Sierra Leone, 20% of girls miss school because of menstruation and in Nepal and Afghanistan, 30% of girls miss school for the same reason (Sommer et al, 2012). In a study of 595 students in Ethiopia, 43% of surveyed students reported missing school during menstruation. Among that population, 39% reported they felt shame and were afraid of being teased by other students if they discovered they were menstruating (Tegagne and Sisay, 2014).

The returns of female education are high. An educated female has better opportunities in the labor market and are important catalysts for overall economic development (Duflo, 2012). Thus, missing school has severe negative consequences for girls outcomes.

What is the significance of this project?

The economic research on this topic is rather scarce, often with contradicting results. A 2009 study in Ghana provided menstrual pads to students for six months and found that attendance increased significantly: almost by 13% in rural areas and 98.4% of the girls reported that they were able to concentrate better in school (Scott et al, 2009). On the contrary, Oster and Thornton's (2011) study in urban Nepal reported little or no positive effect in support of the idea that menstrual product interventions might lead to increased school attendance. A project of this sort hasn't been done before. Baseline data from the field told us that girls miss school when they are menstruating. It also showed us that this sort of intervention is welcomed in this context.

What are the goals of the project?

The purpose of this study is to understand factors that affect female development outcomes, especially in the realm of sanitation and hygiene. Our hypothesis is that providing menstrual products to students will have a significant impact on school attainment, measured though self reported answers and school records. We will also be conducting economic experiments to measure changes in girls' self esteem, aspirations, confidence, and competitiveness. We will conduct a lab in the field experiment by randomly providing reusable menstrual pads to a group of 400 female students aged 13 - 20. To rigorously asses the causal impact of the intervention, a second group of 400 randomly selected girls will serve as our counterfactual.


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The first part of the budget will be used for purchasing reusable pads. Our previous campaign was collecting funds for Afripads. However, it turned out to be unfeasible to import them into Sierra Leone. We found a local organization that manufactures reusable menstrual products that are comparable in terms of quality and price. We believe that this is a more sustainable option, as the organization employs at-risk young women to manufacture the pads.

Each subject will be given a kit of reusable menstrual pads containing 5 pads. A portion of the subjects will be given a menstrual hygiene seminar using materials certified by UNICEF. $3000 will help us buy around 400 pads required for the end line. The second part will be for research costs. These include wages for enumerators and any other field costs associated with their travel. Our enumerators are trained to conduct surveys in the local language. They will also be conducting the economic experiments.

Endorsed by

It's so easy to take for granted how access to simple technologies has already revolutionized lives in the richer countries of the world. This study doesn't make that same mistake. It focuses on a preoccupation of central importance in the lives of adolescent girls and tests whether a simple innovation can cause substantial improvements to these girls' lives. This project is fascinating, valuable, and could make a real difference in the lives of some of the world's poorest girls.
This is an extremely promising project aimed at measuring the effects of providing girls living in extreme resource scarcity with reusable menstrual pads. We already know from qualitative studies that the management of menstruation in certain cultures is a very difficult hurdle to overcome when girls are expected to go to school at ever increasing rates. The experiment is well designed, the instruments to measure subjective well-being, attendance, grades, after school activities well developed. The students team is phenomenally talented!

Project Timeline

The research began data collection at the end of September, 2018. It is projected to last till March 2019, giving us a six month evaluation of the intervention.

Oct 28, 2018

Project Launched

Dec 15, 2018

Purchase pads forĀ end line

Mar 18, 2019

Begin end line experiments and data collection

Meet the Team

Ashwini Shridhar
Ashwini Shridhar
Graduate Student


University of San Francisco- International and Development Economics Program.
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Madison Levine
Madison Levine
Graduate Student


University of San Francisco-International and Development Economics Program
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Ashwini Shridhar

Ashwini is a Masters student in International and Development Economics. She grew up in Bangalore, India and is now hoping to use her unique perspective in working on projects that study topics often ignored by society. She is especially passionate about women's health and empowerment. She is also fascinated by the potential of behavioral economics in lending an insight into development theories. She has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from San Francisco State University and is currently pursuing her Master's degree at University of San Francisco.

Madison Levine

Madison is a Masters student in International and Development Economics (IDEC) at University of San Francisco. She has a Bachelors degree in Economics from Saint Mary's College of California. Growing up she had noticed throughout the years how women have disadvantages, especially in regard to menstruation. She wants to be able to use her background in economics to push forth projects, such as the one her and her partner are currently attempting, that can positively impact people's lives all over the world using developmental theories.

Additional Information

Baseline survey has been conducted already. The end line data collection will be done in six months(March/April 2019)

Project Backers

  • 43Backers
  • 48%Funded
  • $2,380Total Donations
  • $55.35Average Donation
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