With the world developing at a breathtaking speed and demands of daily existence taking a heavy toll on society, the need for seamless access to high-quality, age-appropriate sexual reproductive health (SRH) services cannot be over-emphasised.
This is what inspired social innovator and entrepreneur Gilda Silayo to roll up her sleeves and create MaishaPackage, a high impact and convenient product delivering safe and affordable SRH services to girls and women.
Contents of the package include sanitary pads, UTI test, underwear, condoms and SRH information. The product is hailed around the world as allowing young people to take control of their lives. It also plays a part in minimising the rate of teenage pregnancies.
Silayo’s product is under the umbrella of Life Package Solutions Company, a UNFPA-funded startup of which she is a co-founder.
“Through the MaishaPackage, we are standing in the gap for thousands of young girls, some of whom are forced to miss school because of lack of proper SRH care. This is our humble contribution to wider global efforts to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all through convenient access to SRH and rights information, services and products,” says Silayo, a graduate from University of Dar es Salaam, where she pursued a BA in Library and Information Studies.
Studies indicate that the number of days that a girl will miss classes due to menstruation has a negative impact on their academic performance. Three days per cycle each month amounts to 30 days or so annually. If the cycle doesn’t fall on weekends, then a girl misses a substantial part of class lessons.
It has also been found that most girls are uncomfortable when they experience menstruation, as school toilet facilities do not supply the necessary resources. Hence most schoolgirls prefer to stay at home which affects their academic performance.
In 2017, Gilda led a team that participated in a UKAID funded project implemented by UNFPA Tanzania in collaboration with Sahara Consults called AMUA Accelerator. This empowered activist is also actively involved in community development programmes across Tanzania.
Silayo was chosen among 100 Most Positive Inspiring African Youth 2017/2018 nominated by Positive Youth’s Africa (PYA) in Cameroon and she also won the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award as Tanzania Winner 2017-2018.
“As young people, we should have the mindset of turning challenges into opportunities. It always starts with your mindset if you believe in something you will find a way to make it happen,” she says.
She calls on social partners to remove barriers that hamper progress, such as the fact that in Tanzania one cannot register a business as a social enterprise, despite the positive impact that the entity has on the community.
Silayo also calls for the levelling of the playing field such that women are encouraged to go into business in their numbers.