The Australian leak-proof underwear brand Modibodi has partnered with Plan International Laos to help girls manage their periods at school.
In March and April 2022, staff from the District Education and Sports Bureau distributed Modibodi’s reusable period underwear to girls in 15 schools in Houn District, Oudomxay Province. More than 2000 students received the period underwear packs, each containing five period pants.
Period poverty, characterised by lack of access to menstrual products, management and education, is a serious global health issue that reinforces gender inequality. The first-ever report on effective funding recommendations to address period poverty found roughly 500 million people lack complete menstrual health and hygiene.
It’s not a quick-fix problem, particularly when it comes to crossing borders and acting with cultural safety.
What Modibodi and Plan International did in Laos
According to Modibodi and Plan International Laos, the students visited had limited knowledge of sexual and reproductive health.
Some groups of girls had learned misconceptions about menstruation, including warnings about foods that shouldn’t be eaten and activities that shouldn’t be done when someone has their period. Many women in Laos believe that you should not wash your hair when you are menstruating, for example.
“Distribution events like we did for the Modibodi packs are a great way to get the conversation started to normalise periods,” says Plan’s adolescent project manager Manivanh Phetsalath.
“An important part of our work is to break these taboos. During these types of events, we explain to the girls that having your period is a natural and normal thing that happens every month. You can eat what you want and do activities as you would normally.”
Having never seen or heard of period pants, the students were initially worried about how they would absorb fluids. Plan International has assured that, after using them, these girls were confident to wear them and felt more comfortable participating in school activities on their period – while saving on the cost of sanitary pads, and reducing the amount of garbage inside the school.
Modibodi’s mission to dispel menstrual myths in Australia
Modibodi has been equally passionate about busting period taboos on home soil.
In September 2020, the brand launched ‘The New Way to Period’ TVC campaign designed to normalise conversations about periods. In a rare move in the advertising world, the film actually portrayed blood as red and showed real-life scenarios menstruating people could relate to.
The film was temporarily banned from Facebook, and was only reinstated due to industry backlash.
Although Modibodi was initially launched to help support periods and bladder leaks for women, the business now sells a full range of apparel catering to leaks experienced across the lifespan and across genders.
To follow suit, in June 2022, Modibodi came out with a more inclusive campaign centred around destigmatising body leaks. It daringly explored self-pleasure on your period, a breastfeeding mum’s first night out with leaky breasts, and incontinence in all life stages.
“The videos show moments of truth and comfort – whether that’s physical, emotional or psychological. Instead of showing leaks as a source of shame or discomfort, we focussed on moments where people are enjoying and celebrating their bodies in confidence,” Modibodi’s Chief Marketing Officer Liana Lorenzato tells Marketing.
“We’ll always continue to encourage open conversation and education, breaking taboos and reducing body shame, stigma and isolation derived from these ‘taboo’ subjects.”
To support the cause, Modibodi is available for purchase online.