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Essity B 292.8 (+2 SEK) on 30-Mar-2020 09:19

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Every day around the world, invisible barriers pop up preventing people from going about their daily life. A new mother feels a tiny bladder leak and ducks out of a meeting to go to the bathroom. A grandfather questions whether his unchanged wound dressing will make his grandchildren uncomfortable. And a school student struggles to concentrate because she is worried that people can tell she has her period. Our new Essentials Survey 2020 launched later this year found that 42% of women have refrained from going to school or work because of menstruation. It is unacceptable that in 2020, our world still hasn’t provided period-safe education and work environments. 

It is our mission to find solutions to these invisible barriers so that women feel supported, grandfathers stay social and students can stay focused. 

Essity actively supports a range of external days focused on creating awareness around hygiene and health topics. Two of these days are; World Lymphedema Day on March 6 and International Women's Day on March 8.

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I want to raise awareness about lymphedema, a chronic condition with no cure that causes fluid retention in the body. The World Health Organization estimates effects 250 million people worldwide. Yet, few people I have spoken to seem to know that it exists, or that Essity makes compression garments to help patients manage the condition. Did you know, for instance, that 42% of breast cancer survivors will experience lymphedema?

This is our JOBST Communications Specialist, Sarah Jouanny which I spoke to earlier this month. She is an Australian influencer with primary lymphedema, who moved to Germany to work with our Medical Solutions team to create scale in her mission to make the life of people with lymphedema better.

Our US JOBST team created LymphCare, an online resource and social network for people with primary and secondary lymphedema. Patients share their stories, experts provide knowledge of symptoms and treatment options, and fact-based self-care education is readily available. With the success of this online community, last year we also launched LymphConnect in the UK and LymphCare in Germany to support European patients with Lymphedema and Lipedema. Furthermore, many of us who travel, use compression stockings. I started a couple of years ago and it really feels good.

Breaking barriers to gender equality 

In 2019, the United Nations launched the Women Count Data Hub to monitor progress on SDG5, Gender Equality. Having worked on projects supporting girls’ education and well-being, I believe in the strength of data-driven insights. For instance, in Mexico, UNICEF states that 30% of girls use toilet paper instead of sanitary pads. This is a global issue that we at Essity are committed to take action on. Women should not be held back by a monthly biological function. It's time we as a society, fix this issue. And it begins with a conversation.

In every country I have visited, I have found that too many girls are uncomfortable speaking about the problems they are having with managing their period. A recent study by our UK brand Bodyform found that more than half of girls would rather be bullied than talk to their parents about menstruation. They partnered with anti-bullying organization, The Self Esteem Team to work with schools providing staff with the resources and classes they need to improve period education for all children, as well as increasing access to menstrual products.

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As part of our collaboration with UNICEF Mexico, last year I traveled to Chihuahua to launch 'Hygiene is our Right', an initiative with Saba and Tork to destigmatize menstrual hygiene and promote hand hygiene amongst school communities. Local and grassroots level advocacy is important with culturally issues like menstruation, so we train the next generation, girls and boys, that periods are normal biological functions that can be managed without skipping school.

Well-being and equality are important drivers of long-term economic productivity for our global community. I believe that Essity plays an important role in the development of girls’ education and confidence of lymphedema patients to build full and active lives. I will be joining the International Women’s Day Luncheon organized by our partner UN Foundations in Washington and in NY. To be able to advocate and give a voice to equality gives my work meaning and purpose every day.