When: 11 March, 8pm-9.30pm (UK time)

Where: Zoom (link sent to the enrolled participants on the date of the webinar)

Enrolment: by 10 March, through this link

Further information: Tiina Vaittinen, Tampere University, tiina.vaittinen AT

Humanitarian organisations are increasingly developing their practices of aid to better meet the needs of people who live with incontinence. For instance, in 2022 the Norwegian Church Aid published a vast report Mapping of Support for People Living with Incontinence in Humanitarian Contexts, and presently Oxfam, together with its partner organisations HelpAge International and Malawi Network of Older People’s Organisations (MANEPO), is conducting a multi-country study Improving the Lives of Older People with Incontinence.

It has come to our attention that this work would greatly benefit from the expertise of pelvic health professionals, particularly in relation to practices of preventing and mitigating incontinence in low-resource settings.

To crowdsource knowledge for the utilisation of the humanitarian field, Pelvic Roar is organising an online workshop on 11 March, 8pm (UK time). The workshop is co-organised by Myra Robson from Pelvic Roar, Tiina Vaittinen from the Pad Project at Tampere University, and Michelle Farrington from Oxfam.


The aim of the workshop is two-fold: First, to provide pelvic health professionals with knowledge on the present practices of aid for persons with incontinence and how to get involved and, secondly, to jointly map the possibilities of pelvic floor physiotherapy in these contexts. Detailed programme below.


The workshop participants will contribute to the cocreation of expertise, which requires some data collection practices. We will not record the workshop, but during the small group discussions, we use Flinga (a digital white board) where the participants will type (anonymous) notes on the ideas that arise in the discussion. In addition, after the workshop individual participants will have a possibility to submit in further ideas through a Microsoft Forms link, if they wish to do so.


All data is collected anonymously and stored behind passwords in Tampere University, where it is initially processed by Tiina Vaittinen. The data will be processed as little as possible, and it mainly means moving text from Excel files into a more presentable format, after which it will be posted on the Pelvic Roar homesite, for anyone to utilise. After this, the original files will be removed from the Tampere University server, where the data is initially stored.


The anonymity of the workshop participants will be secured in the processing of the data and publication of the workshop results. However, given that the workshop collects knowledge from experts of their own fields, it is possible for the participants to have their names acknowledged as co-creators of the knowledge, upon publication of the workshop results. We will ask about this in the enrolment form and will contact all participants once the results are posted on Pelvic Roar homesite.


8.00 pm Welcome and short introduction to the programme, Tiina Vaittinen, Tampere University

8.05-8.20 Challenges of continence care in humanitarian emergencies and why we need more knowledge from pelvic health professionals, Michelle Farrington, Oxfam

8.20-8.30 Introduction to the workshop methods used in small groups, Tiina Vaittinen, Tampere University

8.30-9.00 In small groups: Mapping the potential of pelvic health professionals to help different patient groups to maintain continence health in humanitarian emergencies (Facilitated by Tiina and other volunteers from Tampere University)

9.00-9.20 Joint reflection of the small group discussions

9.20-9.30 Thank you and tips on how to get involved in humanitarian work


An International Multistakeholder Workshop: Register now!


A wooden doll sitting on the top of a pile of incontinence pads, with a picture of a landfill in the background


TISCARE2022 is an international multistakeholder workshop, organized by the Pad Project together with the World Federation for Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP), at Tampere University 25-26 April 2022.


We bring together continence care experts in social, political, economic and health sciences, put them in the same table with continence technology specialists and engineers, experts in urban planning, architecture, waste management, and circular economy, as well as patient organizations, health professionals, and the industry, with  the aim to define, what the term “sustainable continence care” means.

The event evolves around parallel workshops, where the participants craft a shared understanding of what sustainable continence care.

In the workshops, the participants produce open access data on expert visions on sustainable future in continence care. The data will be archived after the event, so the event participants as well as others can utilise it freely for purposes of research, teaching, and innovation.

The registration for the event is now open, and the tickets will go on a first-come-first-serve basis. Book your place now!

The registration fees vary from 0 euros (patients and patient organisations) to 70 euros (regular participants) to  1,000-2,000 euros (companies).

Event homesite:



PAD003 What to call "it"?

Logo by Teija Hakala (c)

In the third episode of Pad Leaks (recorded over a year ago), Tiina Vaittinen discuss with Dr Christopher Chatterton. Chris is our colleague in the Pad Project, but also a coauthor in the International Continence Society (ICS) report on the terminology for “single‐use body worn absorbent incontinence products” that was published in Neurourology and Urodynamics in 2020. In this episode, we discuss with Chris, what this report was about, and what the term “single-use body worn absorbent incontinence products” refers to. We also discuss the power of stigma in talking about continence products, and how the stigma operates differently in different contexts – and different languages.

The episode was edited by Timo Uotinen.

Shadowing the shadows of the ecowelfare state: Listening to the adult incontinence pads’ parlance in the Finnish welfare state

“The ecowelfare state should be a welfare state designed
for leaking bodies.”

The first research findings published

The Pad Project team has just published its fist research results, as part of a Special Issue that deals with the ecowelfare state.

The open access article is titles “Shadowing the shadows of the ecowelfare state: Listening to the adult incontinence
pads’ parlance in the Finnish welfare state”.

The article is written in Finnish, but you can find the English abstract below. (And perhaps a certain search engine’s translation tools cam help you read the contents, too, even if you do not read Finnish.


Adult incontinence, both urinary and faecal, are common conditions. Incontinence, however,
and the pads utilised for its management, are silenced. Like waste in the welfare state, they
are in the shadows of wellbeing and overshadowed by it. Various behavioural norms make
them invisible and unspeakable: something that should not disturb the administrative order.

Pad waste is doubly in the shadows. The incontinence pads thus mark the most silenced
corners of the welfare state. When envisioning the ecowelfare state, mapping such silences
is vital. In an ecowelfare state, ecologically sustainable good life must be guaranteed for all
bodies, also those unable to control their bladder or bowels.

In this article, we explore
the administrative discourses and silences around incontinence pads. Methodologically, the
article combines multi-sited ethnography with feminist science and technology studies and
Derridean deconstruction, to sketch potential trajectories towards the ecowelfare state
from the viewpoint of incontinence.

Drawing on data on the municipal administration of the
Finnish pad economy, we show how the ecowelfare state should be a welfare state designed
for leaking bodies. This requires adequate continence care, cure, prevention and rehabilitation,
as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructures, which sewage systems alone
do not solve.


adult diaper, deconstruction, ecowelfare state, incontinence


Will we ever see incontinence products made from 100% renewable materials?

Incontinence pads are also about forest industry

Forest industry may not be the first thing to associate with something as intimately embodied as incontinence care.

Producing the fluff to the pads’ absorbent layers, it is, however, a key industry in the production of the pads.

While solving the question of  sustainable land usage remains key for the sustainability of forest industry, it may also provide solutions for a more sustainable future for adult incontinence care.

Along with a range of experts from other fields, our project’s PI, Tiina Vaittinen, was interviewed for this podcast, produced by Stora Enso, which asks:

Will we ever see incontinence products made from 100% renewable materials?




You can contact us by email: tiina.vaittinen (A)



This is us. If you have joint research interests, and want to be affiliated with the team – or are interested in conducting PhD or MA thesis project on the themes of our project – please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Photo: Jonne Renvall, Tampere University

Dr. TIINA VAITTINEN (PhD) is the PI of the project. She is presently a Senior Research Fellow at Tampere University Faculty of Business and Managament. She is a political economist and transdisciplinary social scientist, who is specialised in mapping complex global political economies of health and social care, from the micro-level of everyday life to the macro-level of international and transnational politics. This requires leasning about the phenomena under scrutiny across disciplinary boundaries, translating between different professional jargons, and finding common ground(s) for conversation. She’s a bit lazy at updating her personal websites, LinkedIns and CVs and such. You can, however, read about Tiina’s past doings here. Sometimes, the list is up-to-date. Together with Anna Rajala (see below), Tiina also (co)authors articles under a joint alias Annastiina Rajala-Vaittinen.


Dr. EVELIINA ASIKAINEN (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. She worked in the project  from September 2020 to May 2021, as a co-investigator in  the work package that focuses on the pad as waste, and the possibilities of future circular economy. Eveliina’s contribution to the project was made possible by the Kone Foundation grant, and she continues to collaborate with the project in the form of coauthoring, for instance.


Dr. CHRISTOPHER CHATTERTON (PhD), worked in the project as a Postdoctoral Researcher, from November 2019 until November 2020, looking at experiences of living with incontinence. His work with us was enabled by the Kone Foundation grant. Presently, Chris works with a charity led project called “The Pad Project UK”, which co-incidentally has a similar name to our project. The two projects are not connected however. Chris still keeps in touch with us, and we look forward to future collaborations.


TUULIA LAHTINEN (RN, MA) is a (self-funded) PhD Candidate in Public Health. Her PhD thesis is a mixed-methods study, where she researches the barriers and solutions to the prevention and treatment of post-partum incontinence in Finnish maternal clinics. Tuulia worked in the project as research assistant in 2021-22, assisting the project in data collection. She also conducted her MA thesis research as part of the project. In her thesis in Nursing Sciences, she surveyed the public pad provision practices in Finland, comparing regional differences and inequalities in prescription quality and access to the products. Tuulia continues to collaborate with us in the form of coauthoring. Tuulia is also Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse by training, and has professional experience in public services responsible for the provision of continence products and other medical supplies.

DR ANNA I. RAJALA (PhD) is Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Research Fellow, who leads her own project on the politics of defecation in Tampere University Faculty of Social Sciences, and collaborates with the Pad Project on joint articles and papers. Anna is a physiotherapist by training, and holds a master’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health (UCL, 2013) and a PhD in Humanities (University of Brighton, 2021). Her PhD thesis is a philosophical criticism of physiotherapy ethics through the work of the German critical theorist Theodor W. Adorno. In her previous postdoctoral research she explored physiotherapy discourses on dementia, economy, and politics, and the ‘affective politics of statistics’ in dementia research. Her interest in pads and (in)continence stems both from her clinical experience and research interests, which include philosophy, politics and ethics of health and illness, medical humanities, continental philosophy, and political economy. Together with Tiina, Anna also (co)authors articles under a joint alias Annastiina Rajala-Vaittinen.

DR MINNA TÖRNÄVÄ (PhD) is doctor of Health Sciences, specialist in sexological counselling and a pelvic floor physiotherapist. She collaborates with the Pad Project as a co-author of articles. Minna is a clinical expert of incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders, and is interested in the prevention and early intervention of these conditions. In addition to the Pad project, she works on various research projects on sexual and reproductive health.

What we do

The adult incontinence pad is a mundane commodity that is used, worn, and disposed of by hundreds of millions of people everyday across the world. Yet, very little is known about its circulation in the global economy – which is what our project seeks to understand.

The adult incontinence pad is not simply a gendered question of disgust, shame, or public expense – as it tends to be protrayed in public discourse. Rather, it is a globally productive economic field imbued with political and ethical tensions, which need be solved for the future of care to be sustainable.

The project begins with the recognition that the adult incontinence pad is never just one thing. Instead, each pad has various parallel realities.

The pad is technology, as well as an everyday commodity for different user groups – men as well as women; young as well as old; people who wear the pads themselves, and people who use the pad when providing incontinence pads for others; institutional care providers, both public and private, are important “user groups” too, for this mundane commodity and health product.

Locally as well as globally, the pad is also a site of economic inequalities and a privilege to use.

Image: iStock, by Dzurag

Furthermore, throughout its life-cycle, the adult incontinence pad both produces waste and is waste.

Image: iStock, by D-Keine

In this project, we examine the global political economies in four“pad realities” (technology, commodity , the pad site of inequalities, waste), and see what kinds of challenges of sustainability emerge as these realities entangle with one another.

How does, for instance, the technolological development and marketing of the pads account for the lived realities of different pad users?

Whose voices are heard, and why – whose experiences remain silenced? How does urban infrastructure account for the needs of adults who live with incontinence? How is pad waste managed in different societies – and is there a role for circular economy?

How does the pad industry work, together with different stakeholders, to reduce the ecological burden that this disposable hygiene product has across the world?

How is adult incontinence managed in contexts where disposable products are not available, or they are too expensive to use?  

How do these different challenges of sustainability entangle with one another, and how can they be solved, together with the different stakeholders?

Image: iStock, by whyframestudio

In close collaboration with different interest groups, the project locates the ethical challenges in the global pad industry, with the aim of co-imagining socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable solutions to them.

Bringing attention to silenced and marginalised knowledges of adult incontinence in both global north and global south, the project seeks to reduce the stigma attached to living with the condition.

Throughout the project, we organise multi-stakeholder workshops, both as a means of data gathering and dissemination – and are interested in collaborating with you. Want to get involved? Do get in touch!