Most societies still attach some form of stigma to periods. Though female education has long been recognised as a fundamental catalyst for change, menstruation itself has been widely neglected. Girls in Kenya end up missing around 20 per cent of school because of their periods, and sanitary supplies generally cost around a day’s earnings for an unskilled labourer. Without them they face discomfort and embarrassment. But in East Africa, work is going on to break down some of that stigma.
Femme International is one of a handful of NGOs dedicated to menstrual health, and specifically to the promotion of menstrual cups as a sustainable way of achieving gender equality. Their Femme Kit gives girls in Kenya and Tanzania everything they need to manage their period, containing a menstrual cup or reusable pads, as well as other essential items to stay clean, healthy and comfortable. Femme also run workshops where privacy, sanitation, disposal and the overall taboo surrounding a woman’s natural monthly cycle are discussed openly. The boys, as well as girls, attend these classes on hygiene, puberty and gender.
The British Educational Research Association claims that “sanitary [supplies] are arguably the lowest cost intervention measure to yield the largest social and economic change in both the short and long term.” The Femme Kit is a vital fighting force, giving women the means to manage their bodies safely, and with confidence.
Sabrina Rubili, Co-founder and Executive Director