23 Feb Femme International’s Feminine Health Management Program
This blog is one of this year’s Alumni Project Fund proposals. Throughout the next few weeks, we will be rolling out the project proposals on our blog. If it’s an idea that strongly resonates with you and that you support, hit the ‘like’ button on the Facebook post we share about it or leave a comment at the bottom of each blog entry. Whichever project receives the most votes and comments will automatically advance to the final round of grant selection.
Femme International’s Feminine Health Management (FHM) program seeks to provide school girls in the Mathare slum with the education and tools necessary to stay safe, healthy and in school, every day of the month. FHM seeks to provide menstrual health education to school girls in the Mathare Valley slum, in order to tackle one of the root causes of gender disparity. The program has two essential components: Education and distribution.
First, program facilitators lead participants through three comprehensive, interactive workshops titled “The Female Reproductive System”, “All About Menstruation”, and “Introducing the Menstrual Cup”. These workshops aim to teach girls about their reproductive system, how their bodies work, and the reasons why women menstruate each month. While these subjects are a part of the Kenyan school curriculum, there is a lack of focus on feminine health and hygiene education. The workshops also discuss pre-menstrual syndrome, menstrual health, and sexual health. The final workshop introduces the menstrual cup as an alternative form of menstrual management, and includes a detailed tutorial on how to properly and effectively use it. All participants receive a workbook to use during the workshops and keep for future reference.
The second component is the distribution of Femme Kits – designed to contain everything a girl needs to manage her period. Because the central component of this Kit is the menstrual cup, these Kits have the potential to be good for up to ten years. The Kits also include a tin bowl for washing the menstrual cup, a small towel, a bar of soap in a protective container, and a log book for the girls to track they cycle.
Menstrual cups are provided as an affordable and sustainable solution to menstrual health management. A menstrual cup is a medical grade silicone cup that is inserted in the vagina to collect, rather than absorb, menstrual fluid. It is more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than other sanitary products and can be reused for up to 10 years. Unlike pads and tampons, the cups only need to be emptied every 12 hours. Thus, girls can attend school without worrying about the availability of private washroom facilities or revealing their period to peers. Introducing this affordable health management method helps reduce the risk of reproductive health infections, disease and poor menstruation-related school attendance and performance.
WHAT IS FEMME INTERNATIONAL?
Femme International is committed to advancing the rights of women and girls through gender targeted programmes that address menstruation, sexual health and feminine hygiene. Femme believes that the achievement of gender equality is directly related to the attainment of adequate feminine hygiene. Femme International is one of the only non-profit organizations dedicated to feminine hygiene education, and the only organization introducing menstrual cups as a sustainable solution.
To see a behavioral change in feminine hygiene and sanitation practices in schoolgirls when menstruating as well as improved attendance rates/academic performance.
- To Improve School Attendance
- To Improve School Performance
- Increased Health
- Improved Health Knowledge
- To Reduce the Stigma Surrounding Menstruation
CONNECTION TO OPERATION GROUNDSWELL
OG has been visiting the Mwelu Foundation in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum for the past few years. The Mwelu Foundation provides youth in the slum with photography and documentary making skills to document their daily lives. Visiting the Mathare slum and discussing Mwelu’s programs have been a highlight for many participants. It was through this visit in 2012 that Femme co-founder and former OG Program Leader, Sabrina Rubli, first met Rachael Ouko and Nelson Mandela – both Mwelu staff. Rachael and Nelson are currently employed on a per-project basis with Femme International; Rachael acts as Field Coordinator and Nelson acts as Community Outreach Officer.