Our Hero: 

Freweini Mebrahtu

CNN has named Freweini Mebrahtu their 2019 Hero of the Year for working to change the cultural stigma around women’s periods. 


Freweini’s belief that no girl should miss school because of a period is resonating on a global scale in a big way.


At Dignity Period, we’ve known Freweini was a hero since the first time our founders met her in 2014.  When Lewis and Helen Wall and Mike and Lynn Coatney learned that a lack of menstruation education and supplies was driving girls to drop out of school, they wanted to help Freweini solve the problem.


Freweini had already established the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory, but she needed financial and logistical support to produce and distribute high volumes of quality menstruation pads to girls throughout Ethiopia.  That’s when Dignity Period was born.

When I met Dr. Wall, it was a game changer. I'm so glad to be working on this issue with people who care as much as I do.

Freweini Mebrahtu 

CNN Hero & Dignity Period Partner

Today, working in partnership with Mekelle University, Dignity Period and Freweini have been able to reach more than 300,000 students.  Dignity Period works with donors to fund the program that Mekelle University administers on the ground in Ethiopia. Dignity Period and Mekelle purchase all the pads for the program from Freweini and Mariam Seba using donated funds.  Click here to see how it all works.


The cultural stigma surrounding menstruation in Ethiopia has dire consequences. On average, one in 10 girls in Ethiopia miss school for reasons related to their periods; in some rural areas, this increases almost 50%. Missing school can lead girls to fall behind in class and eventually drop out.


Thanks to Freweini and Dignity Period, that trend is now moving in the opposite direction.  Research shows that schools visited by Dignity Period had a 24% increase in attendance among girls.

For under $5, we can change a girl’s life.

Freweini Mebrahtu 

CNN Hero & Dignity Period Partner

To learn more about how you can support Freweini’s life-changing work through Dignity Period, visit our How You Can Help page.

All I want is for all girls to have dignity. Period.

Freweini Mebrahtu 

CNN Hero & Dignity Period Partner

CNN Heroes is a year-long initiative that honors everyday people for their selfless, creative efforts to help others.  In its 12 years, CNN Heroes has received more than 85,000 nominations from more than 100 countries. Since 2007, the campaign has profiled more than 300 CNN Heroes. They’re working in more than 80 countries around the world, helping millions of people.

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All photos are the property of the photographer Joni Kabana and Dignity Period. All rights reserved and cannot be used without permission.

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