A Pink Ribbon Foundation volunteer with the pink bra Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI In a novel initiative, a Dubai-based advertising agency has helped a non-profit campaign in Pakistan to design a “pink bra” which seeks to turn the common gesture of women securing money within their bras into a breast cancer self-test exercise.

Tiya Fazelbhoy of Tonic International told XPRESS that the unique partnership with Pink Ribbon Foundation hopes to combat the high rate of breast cancer incidence in the country where survival rates are among the lowest in the world. This is because over 65 per cent of the patients only visit the hospital when the cancer is in its third or fourth stage and it’s too late for effective treatment.

Huge toll

The country is said to have lost over 40,0000 women to breast cancer in the last year, with the majority of those coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Fazelbhoy said the pink bra has strategically placed pockets. “So when women slip money inside their bra, the raised tactile guides tell them where exactly to press to self-examine. The bra also comes with easy to understand illustrations, inside the cups of the bra, which explains each step of the self-test in detail.”

When women spot something unusual, they can call the Pink Ribbon hotline number for free expert advice. The easiest way to tackle breast cancer is by detecting it early, and the Pink Bra helps do just that, she said.

Dr Rufina Soomro, breast cancer surgeon in Pakistan who is the project consultant, said says: “Most women think it’s immoral and inappropriate to speak about breast cancer. These cultural taboos are hindering breast cancer awareness in Pakistan.”

Given the circumstances, Pink Ribbon goes about speaking to women in private. The Pink Bra also ensures this sense of privacy is maintained.

Although the immediate target of the campaign is women from Pakistan, its message is universal.

Fazelbhoy said, “There are around 5.2 million South Asian expats living in the UAE with the majority of them have familiesback home. So it is crucial that the message spreads to those here in order to help more over there.”

“Though this campaign is targeted to the lower socio economic group in Pakistan, there is a general lack of awareness of how to self-test and this project helps to fill in the gap and direct people to the right sources to learn.”

She said the bra has the potential to be adapted in countries around the world, where similar cultural taboos and local insights exist. The project invites people in Pakistan to give the bra to women in lower socio-economic sections of society. It also invites expats from the UAE to join and support the movement by visiting www.giveapinkbra.com


How the Pink Bra works

Pink Bra has strategically placed pockets. When a woman slips money inside it, raised tactile guides tell her where exactly to press to self-examine. Illustrations inside the cups of the bra also explains each step of the self-test in detail.