Mebrahtu Freweini has won the 2019 CNN Hero of the year award.
Mebrahtu Freweini who is from Ethiopia and studied chemical engineering in the US designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad in 2005.
She and her team produce 750,000 reusable pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. Nearly 800,000 girls and women have benefited from her work.
More than 80% of the pads she manufactures are sold to non-governmental organizations that distribute them for free.
Mebrahtu has teamed up with the nonprofit, Dignity Period, to end the stigma around the issue by speaking at schools and teaching girls and boys that menstruation is natural, not shameful. ”The whole goal was not only making the pads, but also attacking the cultural baggage to it,” she said.
Dignity Period has distributed more than 150,000 free menstrual hygiene kits purchased from Mebrahtu’s factory. Data gathered by the group shows that schools visited by Dignity Period had a 24% increase in attendance among girls.
As the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year, Mebrahtu will receive $100,000 to expand her work.