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“ Was it here or in National Geographic that I read the story of a guy in India who spend years figuring out how to make cheap sanitary pads for poor women? His wife divorced him and his mother disowned him for delving into something they thought he shouldn't be delving into. Guy had only a couple of years education but he wound up designing the simple machines, sourcing the materials and finally teaching some native women how to make and sell them. He made several million dollars and provided a decent product to people who could never afford them before. ”

Vern Wells NPRTuesday, June 16, 2015 7:28 PM

NPR2015-06-18T23:34:39.000Z

When Elynn Walter walks into a room of officials from global health organizations and governments, this is how she likes to get their attention:

"I'll say, 'OK, everyone stand up and yell the word blood!' or say, 'Half of the people in the world have their period!' "

It's her way of getting people talking about a topic that a lot of people, well, aren't comfortable talking about: menstrual hygiene.

Walter is an activist whose mission is to improve hygiene in low-income countries. She works with the group WASH Advocates (WASH stands for "water, sanitation and hygiene"). Her issue is critical. Across the developing world, tens of millions of girls face major difficulties managing their monthly period. According to UNICEF, more than half the schools in the poorest countries lack private toilets. And unlike teenage girls in well-off countries, many in the developing world can't afford (or even find) tampons and pads.

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