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Calling on Oprah!

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Calling on Oprah!

Lunapads: Improving the lives of girls and women everywhere! –guest blog post by Leslie Emmons Two Canadian gals are hoping to connect with media mogul-philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, and they’re aiming to do it through a delicate women’s issue: menstruation. I spoke to Madeleine Shaw, who, with Suzanne Siemens, founded the socially-conscious company Lunapads. The Vancouver-based entrepreneur talked about her campaign to get Oprah involved in a project that will change the way women talk about their periods and help young women in developing nations around the world. [caption id="attachment_3273" align="aligncenter" width="246"] Oprah Oprah Winfrey  (Photo: Alan Light)[/caption]

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The two socially-minded entrepreneurs want Oprah to know all about Lunapads, which are reusable pads made of 100% cotton flannel and two layers of highly absorbent cotton fleece. Among the products selling points: they come in sets of seven and can be used for up to five years, which is especially ideal for women in developing countries. Q: Where did the name ‘Lunapad’ come from? A: The Luna part references that the lunar cycle is (almost) the same as the 28-day menstrual cycle,. Obviously, not every woman has a 28 day cycle, but it’s fairly standard. So the name refers to that connection between women’s fertility cycles and the lunar cycles. Q: You’ve donated to places like Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Cuba. Do you have plans to expand? A: We will go wherever the need is. There are 600 million girls in the developing world. Our strongest relationship right now is through the AFRIpads. [AFRIpads is a Uganda based organization that employs locals to create reusable pads, following the Lunapad model.] [caption id="attachment_3269" align="aligncenter" width="213"] Lunapad founders Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemen Madeleine Shawl Suzanne Siemen[/caption]

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Q: It’s particularly moving to hear that girls in developing countries are not going to school when they get their periods. A: It’s cumulative, so if you think about it, the girls are missing four to five days every month. It’s compounded by the fact a lot of families don’t see the value in educating their girls. Q: What do girls in Africa usually do (or use) when they have no menstrual supplies during their period? A: They’ll use things like old bits of newspaper, rags and leaves, tree bark and even twigs, really unhygienic means, mud sometimes. Basically whatever sort of material is available. The problem isn’t just a lack of products themselves or proper products. It’s the education that needs to go along with it that teaches them this isn’t something to be ashamed of. The idea is to teach them how to take care of the products and how to take care of themselves. Q: What do you hope to get out of a potential meeting with Oprah? A. Oprah is such an iconic figure and is seen as a hero, particularly by women and is really famous for being super courageous about telling stories and talking about issues that not everybody wants to get into. I can’t think of anybody better to do this and to address this issue. She loves social business, unique ideas, entrepreneurship, social issues, women and girls' education and the developing world. We actually have a lot of common with her. Q: Where did you come up with the idea to donate 400 pads to girls in Africa to tie in with Oprah’s arrival in your city of Vancouver on January 24? A: We were looking at her school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and we learned that there are 380 students at that school. We’re trying to get in touch with the school and say, 'Hey would you like to get involved?' Q: Besides Twitter, how else have you been trying to bring your organization to Oprah’s attention? A: I sent the first email to Oprah personally and now that we’ve started to get some media attention, we’re sending it to her team, with the message, ‘Look we're in the Huffington Post, and, 'Look here’s a video we made called  "Five reasons Oprah should meet us.'" Q: How can Canadian women help? A. In order to help the Lunapads founders achieve their goal of meeting Oprah – and ultimately helping more young women in developing countries – Tweet your support through twitter.com/Lunapads with the hashtag #Pads4Oprah
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Calling on Oprah!

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