Skip to content

Addressing Uncomfortable Truths about Women’s Cycles

Sara Eklund had hurdles importing the first menstrual cups into Ethiopia, but she hadn’t anticipated having to explain to confused customs officials what the small, pink silicone cups were used for. She had finally got a green light to bring an initial 200 Noble Cups into the country, only to have them confiscated by the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority – over apparent paperwork issues. But Eklund was not deterred. “I thought go big or go home.” So, she went for 5,000 in her second shipment. With some determination from Eklund, Noble Cup is now on sale in more than 30 shops across the capital, Addis Ababa, with plans to expand. At $4, the cups are prohibitively expensive for most women and girls in Ethiopia, where only 28% of women report having “everything they need” to manage their periods, and 25% do not use any form of sanitary product, relying instead on whatever they can find: rags, newspaper, even cloths filled with ash. Eklund hopes that promoting the product will help encourage a more open discussion, and reduce the stigma and shame around menstrual health. “This is something every single woman goes through every month,” she says.