With the goal of realizing cleanliness and hygienic habits promoting health for people around the world as well as a society in which everyone can live in comfort, Kao Group began partnering with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)*1 in February 2019 to support the Menstrual Hygiene Improvement Project in Uganda. Kao is providing funding to EcoSmart Uganda Ltd., a startup company founded by five young social entrepreneurs in Uganda to domestically produce sanitary napkins. EcoSmart aims to empower women and girls in Uganda who face obstacles to menstrual hygiene management to remain active and be comfortable during their menstrual cycle. Through this partnership, Kao aspires to contribute to Goal 3 and Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which target good health and well-being and gender equality, respectively.
Kao Group has provided products and services along with awareness-raising initiatives to instill habits for cleanliness and hygiene adapted to local cultures and social needs. Many of the goals and targets of the SDGs are critical issues in sub-Saharan Africa, where Kao does not currently have business operations. Kao has therefore partnered with UNFPA, whose mission aligns with Kao's corporate citizenship activities focusing on cleanliness, hygiene, and health among other areas, to support EcoSmart's social entrepreneurship in Uganda.
Many women from low-income households in Africa cannot afford to purchase sanitary napkins, and instead use old cloths, plant leaves, or other substitutes, which sometimes result in severe infections. Many girls also miss school due to worry over bleeding through their clothes because sanitary napkins are not available to them, causing them to fall behind and even drop out of school. EcoSmart aspires to produce and sell low-cost sanitary napkins in Uganda with the belief that all women should have access to menstrual hygiene management and be able to live in dignity as an active member of society during their menstrual cycle.
By supporting EcoSmart, Kao Group intends to make sanitary napkins available to women in Uganda on a regular basis to provide access to greater comfort and hygiene during their menstrual cycle. Empowering girls to attend school during their menstrual cycle also affords girls the equal opportunity of getting an education, which will contribute to the overall development of society. Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA Representative in Uganda, is very excited about the cooperation, stating, "Since UNFPA is delivering an integrated package of rights to women and girls in Uganda, it is heartening that Kao supports social change innovation in one of girls' basic rights, for example, the right to adequate menstrual health." Dave Muenz, Executive Officer in charge of ESG at Kao, also commented, "We believe it is very meaningful to be able to contribute to the greater hygiene and comfort of young people in Africa, where rapid development is projected."
Kao Group will promote its unique ESG activities on a global level for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people worldwide and to contribute to social sustainability.
Kao creates high-value-added products that enrich the lives of consumers around the world. Through its portfolio of over 20 leading brands such as Attack, Bioré, Goldwell, Jergens, John Frieda, Kanebo, Laurier, Merries and Molton Brown, Kao is part of the everyday lives of people in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe. Combined with its chemical division, which contributes to a wide range of industries, Kao generates about 1,500 billion yen in annual sales. Kao employs about 33,000 people worldwide and has 130 years of history in innovation. Please visit the Kao Group website for updated information.