Zaakira Mahomed is the founder of Mina, an organisation on a mission to reduce period poverty and inspire confidence through a reusable menstrual cup.
The Mina cup is made from 100% medical grade silicone that is safe to use inside your body for up to 12 hours before being removed and rinsed. But the benefits do not end here. “If you give a girl or a woman a menstrual cup, she can manage her period for the next five to 10 years. She’s saving a lot of money, she’s saving the planet, she’s protecting her health and she can be who she needs to be, instead of worrying about how to finance her period health on a month-to-month basis.”
Mahomed first discovered the menstrual cup in 2014. Women’s Month was approaching and every year, she and her friends would raise funds to support communities in need. It was during this time that Mahomed came to learn that many young girls were skipping school during their periods because they did not have sanitary pads. By 2015, after months of research and hard work, Mina was born. Mahomed believes that Mina found her. “I felt that it was my duty as a mother, a sister and a fellow human being to educate not only girls about periods, but boys too — in order remove all fear and stigma and, instead, instil confidence as a girl’s body starts to change.”
While the journey has been rewarding, it has not been easy. “I knew I needed to get an army of strong women behind me, because I was going to have to fight a lot of taboos and change a lot of mind-sets.” Mahomed worked hard to have menstrual conversations with elders and other community leaders, including men and boys. According to her, if patriarchy is the reason women are left behind, then overcoming patriarchy is going to be the reason women move forward.
“Mina is quite famous,” says Mahomed. “Mina has a number of stamps in her passport. We’ve been to Zimbabwe, the Middle East, Mozambique and, this September, Mina goes to Kenya.” Mina’s reach is undeniable and no matter what barriers she comes face-to-face with, she continues to advocate period positivity and touch many people’s lives. Mahomed and her team have worked with LGBTQIA+ people, gender-based violence survivors, women working in landfills and refugees.
The success of Mina is largely down to Mahomed’s own maternal instinct combined with a knack for clever branding. Mina has her own personality, embodying a confident, happy and empowered woman who can do anything on or off her period. As a result, Mina not only advocates period positivity by normalising the natural process of menstruation, but also stresses the importance of staying in school. “We wanted to decrease absenteeism and pregnancy rates to keep girls in school. They shouldn’t be missing out on an education because they cannot afford something like a sanitary product, which is a basic human right.”
We wanted to decrease absenteeism and pregnancy rates to keep girls in school. They shouldn’t be missing out on an education because they cannot afford something like a sanitary product, which is a basic human right.