Nigeria GM Leads Effort to Support Mothers and Girls

Mar 5, 2021 4:30 PM ET

When Vani Malik joined Kimberly-Clark as the general manager for our Nigeria operations last summer, she didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop her from accelerating Kimberly-Clark’s efforts to tackle major obstacles that mothers and girls face in Nigeria.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populated country, with one of the highest birth rates in the world – more than 6 million babies are born every year. Kimberly-Clark has invested $100 million to date in this strategic market, including a new diaper manufacturing facility that will open this year.

“A lot of mothers face challenges if they’re still using cloth diapers,” she said. “When they step out of their houses, their babies are uncomfortable, and that can be frustrating for moms.”

Disposable diapers give moms the flexibility to continue normal routines, but Vani’s team found that the use of disposable diapers is typically only common for moms who live in urban areas.

The Nigeria team also wanted to find a solution for girls who would skip school or even drop out once they started their periods. In some communities, there’s still a stigma when discussing menstrual health and hygiene.

“They don’t have cost-effective feminine care products,” Vani explained. “They don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents or mother or sister, or they don’t have sufficient information about periods.”

The team launched two initiatives to support mothers and girls. They first launched a Huggies sampling program. Hundreds of thousands of mothers in hospitals received diaper samples, and they also provided samples to moms and their babies at immunization events. This gave the moms a chance to see the fit, movement and comfort of Huggies with little effort.  

“Diapering delivers a convenience for moms to go about their lives as normally as they can with a young baby.”

Vani’s team also launched ‘Kotex Hygiene Talk,’ a school sampling and education program for girls with help from teachers and school authorities. In this safe environment, the girls could ask questions about periods and receive free Kotex samples.

“It was a heartwarming response from the girls. We gave them a platform to ask questions that they were too scared to ask before.”

The team plans to deliver Huggies samples to 1.6 million moms and Kotex samples to 600,000 girls in 2021. This is part of Kimberly-Clark’s global ambition to improve the lives of 1 billion people in underserved communities around the world by 2030.

“I’m proud of this team,” Vani said with a smile. “We are providing a platform for mothers and young girls and making a real difference, while supporting our business and brand strategies to win in this market.”

On this year’s International Women’s Day, we salute the women like Vani who are leading with purpose and driving Kimberly-Clark’s efforts to make lives better for communities around the world.