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Celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022

GEM designer Tyler Donohue, Heels4Pads founders Monicah Muhoya, Angela Waweru & Angela Wambui, Unlearning Innovation Hub co-founder, Winnie Nyabenge and team members: Teresa Aloo & Winnie Makokha, Apollo Tours PR and marketing Agnes Wamai and Wycliffe Chanzu, & Rubycup ambassador Vanessa Kivugale

Image: Douglas Okiddy- Star Kenya Newspaper

We ended the month with a huge celebratory trip to Nakuru with other organisations Unlearn Innovation Hub, GEM, Ruby cup, Apollo Tours, OCTRE, JamiiAjibika, For the Menstruator and Afripads to mark this very important day.

World menstrual hygiene day was first celebrated in the year 2014 as coordinated by WASH United. Co-founders Winnie Nyabenge and Alfred Muli of Unlearn Innovation Hub were very instrumental in the advocacy leading up to this being a global celebration, particularly in Kenya. They did this under the auspices of WASH United, a non-governmental organization, where Alfred Muli was the 1st National coordinator for Menstrual Hygiene (MH) day for Kenya. We are more than proud to be continuously part of conversations to:

“Break the silence, raise awareness and change the negative social norms around menstrual health and hygiene”

Lack of menstrual hygiene products, period stigma, shame surrounding it and the lack of basic knowledge among both men and women, limited support to navigate menstruation has been documented as a challenge in many communities globally. Hence, our participation in initiatives to address some of these was more than welcome.

Road Trip for Menstrual Health

On Saturday, 28th May 2022, we participated in the “Road Trip for Menstrual Health”, a menstrual hygiene day campaign that was supported by at least 7 partners, with Apollo tours supporting the transportation using one of their buses.

The “Road Trip for Menstrual Health” campaign included the following activities: interviews with men by the roadside (between Nairobi- Nakuru highway) on menstruation, an awareness training for girls and teenage mothers in Ronda and Kaptembwo areas in Nakuru, and a workshop with men facilitated by GEM. In between all this, we distributed the donations (dignity kits, menstrual disposable pads, reusable pads, children's diapers, information booklets, and bars of soap). These donations were supported by various organisations such as Rotary International, For The Menstruator, Afripads, and Zana Africa.

Tyler Donohue facilitating a GEM session with a group of young men in Ronda, Nakuru

How can girls and women be supported? — The GEM workshop

Tyler Donohue, a female health advocate and social impact innovator, designed a curriculum for the Globally Engaged Men (GEM ) workshop. This workshop is an interactive space where men can learn about menstrual health and how championing menstrual health for women can benefit them and the community at large.

A lot of work has been put into offering support to girls and women with regard to menstrual health. This includes behaviour change initiatives, menstrual products access through donations and other creative avenues. However, at the core of menstrual health is women’s limited decision making power, family resources and in turn access to quality menstrual health products and general support due to lack of understanding. The GEM workshop shared invaluable information with a group of men, who are breadwinners and decision-makers in their homes and communities to bridge the existing knowledge gap on menstrual health.

Winnie Nyabenge from Unlearn Innovation Hub, co-facilitating a GEM session

This will hopefully impact menstrual health management in terms of:

1. Men understand the whole cycle in order to be more understanding as well as demystify myths, taboos and stigma associated with the same that do not serve the community positively.

2. Improve financial planning with the knowledge that menstruation occurs every month and should and can be planned for.

3. Men as fathers, uncles, brothers, friends, colleagues and partners in the absence of older women's guidance can support younger women in their lives.

Teaching the girls how to use reusable pads

Awareness Creation

Awareness creation on menstrual health has been a consistent objective of these campaigns and this year was no different. This was coordinated by us and Ruby Cup trainer and Unlearn co-founders the girls were shown how to use the disposable pads, the reusable pads, the menstrual cup (ruby cup) and how to understand their bodies including what to do in case of sexual abuse.

Vanessa from Rubycup explained how to use their menstrual cup

Roadside Interviews Our journey began at Kencom bus station at the heart of Nairobi, Kenya and so did the interviews. We then proceeded to take the Nakuru highway, stopping over at Kangemi, Soko Mjinga and Delamere. In all these places we were able to interview men who consented to be recorded as they shared their knowledge of menstruation.

Interviewing men along the highway with Teresa Aloo, Unlearning Innovation Hub (far left)

It was an overall successful Menstrual Hygiene Day, and we are glad to have participated in marking this important day.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This was written by Guest Writer, Winnie Makokha of Unlearn innovation hub

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