Women in Malawi are being given funding to help make and sell reusable sanitary products, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The £13,000 award is going to the Perth-based charity Freedom from Fistula, which provides free maternity care and surgery to women injured in childbirth.
The Scottish Government said the money will make it possible for patients recovering from fistula repair surgery to be trained to manufacture environmentally friendly reusable sanitary towels.
The funding will also be used to donate packs of the products to 1,000 school pupils.
The First Minister announced the support at Scotland’s International Development Alliance’s annual conference.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Prolonged, difficult labour and lack of access to maternity care has left an estimated two million women and girls in Africa suﬀering from obstetric ﬁstula which can leave them incontinent, and often condemned to a life of solitude and despair.
“No-one should experience this, which is why this scheme is so important.
“This funding will not only support communities to access sanitary products, but will also help women develop entrepreneurial skills and build businesses to support them and their communities.
“We are leading the way in providing access to free sanitary products in Scotland and it is only right to support those in need in one of our partner countries.”
The £13,000 cash pot covers the current and next financial years and means patients can learn to make sanitary pads while they are in hospital following surgery.
It will allow them to receive an income and return to their community with the skill and equipment to start a business.
International Development Minister Ben Macpherson will visit the fistula unit at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe when he visits Malawi this week.
Businesswoman Ann Gloag, the founder of the charity, said: “Our fistula patients have often lived a life of shame and isolation following their childbirth injury so the medical treatment is just the first step on their road to recovery.
“Providing opportunities for them to earn their own income beyond surgery empowers our patients for the long term and has a positive impact on the country’s economy.”