The many countries of the world find themselves in different stages of industrialization, with different priorities and wealth, so it’s easy to understand that they struggle with similarly varied health issues. In a place like Japan — wealthy and technologically advanced with low levels of crime — the top health concerns include stroke and various cancers. Places like Niger, though, with little wealth and a lack of health resources, struggle with malaria and malnutrition instead. One public health issue is constant, however, affecting victims worldwide regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or religion.

Physical or sexual violence harms more than one-third of all women globally, making it a global health problem on a “scale bigger than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis,” according to the World Health Organization. Intense psychological damage, physical injury, and 43,500 untimely deaths per year are only the most easily noticed effects. This violence also diminishes productivity, and in turn reduces the world’s gross domestic product by 3.7 percent. Health care and legal expenses also contribute to costs. Experts have determined that prevention is the best way to combat the problem, in addition to existing criminal justice responses to violence.

Preventative efforts don’t come cheap. For example, the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women — a leading global effort — received grant requests totaling $1.1 billion in 2012. They were only able to award $8.4 million, less than 1 percent of the demand. Some private businesses, including the cosmetic companies Avon and Mary Kay, have funded violence prevention programs, but these efforts cannot totally eliminate the funding gap.

That’s why Dr. S.D. Shanti, associate professor of public health from the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, is calling on a different industry to donate a portion of their profits to anti-violence efforts — tampon manufacturers.

These companies have a “huge market of essential goods,” she said in a press release, referencing the tampons and sanitary napkins that women in every society purchase. Almost every woman of childbearing age on the planet menstruates — another constant for them alongside violence. Shanti explained that, while it’s fantastic whenever any company supports the prevention of violence against women, those manufacturing feminine hygiene products are “uniquely positioned to engage in corporate social responsibility by investing in the health of women and reducing the harms and costs associated with violence.”

The industry’s annual global sales are projected to total $15.2 billion by 2017 — even 0.5 percent of those sales could generate vital funds for programs in desperate need of support.

“It is only right that tampon manufacturers give something back to their customers,” Shanti explained, “as long as these costs aren’t simply passed on to consumers.”

Source: Shanti S. Tampon Makers Could Help reduce Violence Against Women. The BMJ. 2016.