Freweini Mebrahtu named 2019 CNN Hero of the Year
After weeks of online voting, Freweini Mebrahtu was named the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year.
Selected from the Top 10 CNN Heroes finalists, Ethiopian Freweini is recognised for her years of dedication and incredible work at keeping girls in school by designing a reusable menstrual pad to help end the cultural stigma around periods in Ethiopia.
Receiving the award, Freweini said, “I am so humbled and grateful for CNN…this is for all the girls and women everywhere. Dignity for all.”
Freweini, who studied chemical engineering, designed and patented the reusable pad in 2005. She and her team produce 750,000 pads a year at her factory in Ethiopia. Nearly 800,000 girls and women have benefited from her work.
More than 80% of the pads she manufactures are sold to non-governmental organizations that distribute them for free.
Teaming up with the non-profit, Dignity Period, to end the stigma around the issue, Freweini speaks at schools and teaches girls and boys that menstruation is natural, not shameful.
Dignity Period has distributed more than 150,000 free menstrual hygiene kits purchased from Freweini’s factory. Data gathered by the group shows that schools visited by Dignity Period had a 24% increase in attendance among girls.
As the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year, Freweini will receive $100,000 to expand her work.
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