Scottish Government offer support to women in Malawi

Scottish Government offer support to women in Malawi

Malawian women will receive funding to help make and sell reusable sanitary products in their communities, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The £13,000 award to the Freedom from Fistula project will make it possible for patients who are recovering from fistula repair surgery, to be trained to manufacture environmentally friendly reusable sanitary towels.

The funding will also be used to donate packs of the reusable products to 1,000 school pupils. International Development Minister Ben Macpherson will visit the fistula unit at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe as part of his engagements in Malawi this week.

The First Minister announced the support at Scotland’s International Development Alliance’s annual conference. She said:

“Prolonged, difficult labour and lack of access to maternity care has left an estimated two million women and girls in Africa suffering from obstetric fistula which can leave them incontinent, and often condemned to a life of solitude and despair. No-one should experience this which is why this scheme is so important.

“This funding will not only support communities to access sanitary products, but will also help women develop entrepreneurial skills and build businesses to support them and their communities.

“We are leading the way in providing access to free sanitary products in Scotland and it is only right to support those in need in one of our partner countries.

“Investing in entrepreneurial activities such as this will mean that Scotland is supporting Malawi to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Ann Gloag, Founder of Freedom from Fistula said: 

“We are delighted the Scottish Government is supporting this important initiative to enable former fistula patients to be economically independent after surgery, as well as provide reusable sanitary products for schoolgirls in Malawi.  

“Our fistula patients have often lived a life of shame and isolation following their childbirth injury so the medical treatment is just the first step on their road to recovery.  Providing opportunities for them to earn their own income beyond surgery empowers our patients for the long term and has a positive impact on the country’s economy.  It is even better that their business also provides sanitary products for some of the poorest women and girls in the country.”


The £13,000 funding over 2018-19 and 2019-20 will mean patients involved in the Freedom from Fistula project can learn to make sanitary pads while they are in the hospital having their fistula fixed, enabling them to receive an income and return to their community with the skill and equipment to start their business.

International Development Minister Ben Macpherson is visiting Malawi this week to see the impact of Scotland’s long-standing partnerships.

Scottish Government Press Release 24.09.2018