COP 28: Gender Day – What’s period poverty got to do with the planet?

Equality and education as drivers for climate change action

Recently it was gender day at COP28 and saw the release of the UN Women’s framework report. It highlights how gender inequalities in access to literacy, education and jobs undermines resilience to climate change, pushing women and therefore their communities further into poverty. The report calls for just transition plans that address gender inequality, with better access to education and jobs whilst moving resources away from extractive and environmentally damaging activities.


Our Palesa Pads partnership addresses period poverty and unnecessary plastic

With all this in mind, I have felt particularly grateful of the opportunity to support Palesa Pads, who we have partnered with through our community investment at Morelli Consulting.

Palesa Pads is a South African social enterprise that employs women to manufacture and distribute high quality, reusable cloth sanitary pads for girls and women across southern Africa. Their reusable pads can be used for up to 5 years and cost less than 20% of the cost of disposable pads. One pack of disposable pads contains the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags and therefore they also prevent a considerable amount of plastic waste going to landfill.

With many girls missing school every month because they cannot afford sanitary products, Palesa Pads works specifically to help keep girls in education. They also run crucial education sessions at schools to ensure girls know how to use the pads hygienically and to reduce the stigma associated with having periods. While there is no single piece of research into how many girls miss school globally, studies reveal that thousands of girls miss many days of education every year because they’re on their period.

In the UK alone, girls miss on average 3 days a term due to their periods. In some countries as many as 15 days a term are missed, often resulting in girls falling behind and then dropping out of education altogether.


Practical support for Palesa

Morelli Consulting started supporting Palesa Pads in 2022 and we have directly funded and supported the distribution of 60 “starter care kits” for girls in a rural school in South Africa.  These kits contain reusable pads, cleaning kits, bras, discrete bags to keep their sanitary items in and instructions. Two members of the team have visited the school to meet with the children and staff.  We have also conducted research with these girls to understand the impact this has had on their lives, especially during the crucial months before they move to senior school.  In the new year we will distribute further kits to the next cohort of girls and aim to expand our support to include basic hygiene packs for the boys.

Collectively, the team at Morelli are carrying out various fundraising activities, including sponsored gym-sessions, runs and walks to pay for these packs. Funds raised will be matched by the business, doubling our impact and reach.

So, whilst the enormity of the challenge of climate change, poverty and inequality can make us feel disempowered, and whilst systemwide policy and legislative changes must ensue from COP28, I am grateful to play a small part in keeping girls in school and to support the bigger picture changes that are so urgently needed.


If you’d like to find out more or would like to support Palesa Pads, please get in touch.

Olivia Knight-Adams Head of Sustainability Strategy.