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A menstrual toolkit designed for displaced women

  • TIDE. menstrual toolkit

  • How to use

  • Material Testing

  • Washing Device Design

  • Sanitary Pad Design

What it does

The toolkit caters to every aspect of the menstrual cycle. It is designed to provide a reusable and universal menstrual health solution for refugee women.

Your inspiration

Upon researching the refugee crisis, we realised health and sanitation were a leading problem, specifically menstrual health. However, it was clear the specific needs of women and girls in emergencies still tend to be over looked and not seen as a priority. We wanted to bring attention to this matter to improve the quality of supplies and general health of women in refuge. We also want to improve the knowledge and understanding of menstruation of women, girls and even men in this situation. We are trying to tackle the challenge of a period for those who have been forced to flee their home.

How it works

The raw materials for the toolkit will be sourced locally. A safe area will be setup on site and women will then be introduced to this area. They will be given the means to sew the pads together. Here we hope to create a community in which women can learn about menstrual hygiene. The women can then use the toolkit for each menstrual cycle. The pad is designed to fasten into the existing gusset in women’s underwear. It has three layers; The top layer is the dry layer that sits against the skin. The middle layer is the absorbency layer that retains the liquid. The bottom layer is the leakproof layer. It also acts as a cover to package the pad when not in use, to prevent the user from touching any blood. We also developed a handheld washing device with an internal cage. The user simply places the pad into the cage, screws the device shut, puts water into the device through opening at the top and shakes. The pads can be stored in the device when they're not in use.

Design process

We started the project with technology testing. A range of materials were purchased and tested against a disposable sanitary pad. From this we learned that no one material would satisfy all the properties required. Therefore, we knew a layering of different materials would be needed. We then analysed the task of changing a pad studying each action to understand the number of steps and risks involved. Our aim was to reduce the number of steps within the process while also reducing the risk of being seen or heard menstruating. This goes against cultural beliefs as well as increasing the risk of sexual/gender based violence attacks. We met with displaced women from around the world through three organisations. Through the discussion of experience, common challenges and cultural norms we noticed recurring insights and developed our project around these findings. We realised that designing a sanitary pad alone would not be sufficient, which is why we designed a full toolkit and community system. Our final concept of the ‘TIDE.” Menstrual toolkit was driven by the process in which it was designed. The toolkit caters to every aspect of the menstrual cycle. It respects the user’s privacy and need for discretion, while also encouraging open communication and education about menstruation.

How it is different

TIDE. Menstrual toolkit is unique to other ideas because it caters for every need a woman may have during her menstrual cycle. It considers everything from washing and wearing, to educating and breaking down stigmas. The focus of this toolkit is on providing women with the ability to manage their menstrual health themselves. It is to remove any additional worries a woman may have during this difficult time. It is reusable. The planned implemented system provides an opportunity to breakdown any taboo issues with this topic, meaning women and girls can learn from one another and form a community. It focuses on keeping women safe by reducing the amount of time they must spend in the toilet, ensuring they have means to clean their pads, and ensuring they have the supplies and resources necessary to manage their menstrual cycle.

Future plans

We are currently working with Engineers Without Borders and Concern Worldwide to continue developing and testing our toolkit. We are working on utilising local, easily accessible and recyclable materials for our toolkit. For example, repurposing plastic water bottles for the washing device. We plan to continue talking to women, getting their feedback and breaking down the stigmas associated with menstruation.


TIDE. was the winner of the 2018 " Where there is no engineer" competition.

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