How This Inventor Singlehandedly Ushered In Better Menstruation Protection
And made life easier for billions of women while fighting racism
When you read the name, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, there is a good likelihood that it won’t ring a bell. Yet she singlehandedly solved a problem that billions of women globally experienced every month.
Menstrual health is a question that continues to bother millions of women globally and it has been that way for centuries. The strides in information, innovation, and investment have been able to curb the difficulties associated with menstruation.
As late as the early 20th century, the majority of women in the world used multiple methods during their monthly flows. Even in western countries, the preference for rugs and other DIY methods still prevented women from having optimal conditions for dealing with menstrual-related issues in a sanitary manner.
Taboos surrounding menstrual health thus stifled the progress that could have been made. The failure of the first sanitary pad, then known as Lister Towels, came as a result of many of these societal views.
Mary Kenner provided a viable solution to the difficult situation that millions of women were experiencing. She designed and invented the “Sanitary Belt” which was adjustable and had various advantages that were nonexistent before.
A little context is required to understand why she is a significant figure in this particular realm.
Mary Kenner came from a line of inventors and she was respectfully a giant in her own endeavors. The creation of a sanitary solution that was a precursor to modern sanitary pads was limited by her identity and her origin.
She admitted that the news of this creation raised great interest in the product and companies were interested enough to take her up on developing this product.
The first hurdle she encountered was racial discrimination. Once her patent was accepted in 1956, there was a good likelihood that her fortunes would have changed for the better. But America was certainly a different land as the first company that approached her was immediately turned off by the fact that she was of African descent.
Companies simply waited for the patent to expire and the manufacture of her sanitary belt became mainstream. An idea no one was willing to take her up on became the driver of profits and possibly a saving grace for many women who used it after the patent’s expiration.
Inventing solutions does not always mean that the inventor will be in for a good life. Multiple examples of brilliance not being rewarded have occurred and will keep occurring into the future until society finds it prudent to incentivize such brilliance. After all, we have no idea what other life-changing inventions could come from a single individual.