September 2011
Kigali, Rwanda

I am sure you have heard from my two colleagues Megan and Justine, and this is Juliet.

I remember meeting Elizabeth Scharpf and Hannah Brice in 2008 through Generation Rwanda. They were doing research on sanitary pads in Rwanda and how girls and women can have access to them. I volunteered with SHE with great passion since I had seen this big issue (lack of access to sanitary pads) in my community and schools. I kept learning more about this venture through Rotaract Club Rwanda of which I am a member, and I even facilitated in creating an awareness campaign on menstruation periods as issue for women and girls in my country. It was my dream to be part of this movement.
Surprisingly after three years, I won a fellowship program with Global Health Corps (GHC), and my first choice placement was Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), where am now working as an M&E officer. I am so excited to be part of the SHE team and this is just A DREAM COME TRUE.

Megan and I did some field visits this week. We traveled around town investigating some craft coops that sell mercndise made of banana fibers. We also visited RWANDA COOPERATIVE AGENCY which is a Public Institution in charge of Promotion, Registration and Regulation of Cooperatives in the country and made some important contacts that will help us learn more about the banana fiber supply chain. Wish us luck as we work out way along the supply chain, eventually paying a visit to banana plantations in the eastern province!

Thank you
Juliet B.

The Options...

Kigali, Rwanda

Hi everyone! This is Megan, and you met me last week. You saw me sandwiched between my two talented colleagues, Juliet and Justine. I’m going to start off our weekly blog posting with some of my thoughts on the methods for menstrual management.

Working in a small, one-room office with four other women concerned about menstrual health lends itself to a good bit of personal sharing, so I’m going to go ahead and share with the wider SHE community. After learning about how difficult and expensive it is to access pads and tampons in Rwanda, I decided to start using a menstrual cup (hyper link: when I moved here. This method of menstrual management works great for me and saves me a lot hassle and money, so I must admit that I wondered before moving to Rwanda and starting work at SHE why the company was not investigating alternative methods to pads. Now that I have had the opportunity to speak with my coworkers, I understand much better why banana fiber pads are an ideal solution to menstrual management in Rwanda and why menstrual cups would not work. In short, menstrual cups are not practical for Rwanda because:
• Menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone which would be difficult to manufacture here in Rwanda
• Menstrual cups must be washed with potable water, which can be inaccessible here
• Understanding how to insert the cup requires a good amount of reading and online research, which might be difficult for some women in Rwanda
• Any type of insertion method for menstrual management is very culturally sensitive and might not be well-received, particularly among Rwandans who are religious
For a more in-depth analysis of where in the world menstrual cups make sense and where they don’t, check out the website of The Diva Cup, (hyper link:, a popular menstrual cup manufacturer.

Another menstrual management option I had read about before starting work here at SHE was reusable pads, such as the Luna Pad (hyper link: There are several companies that produce reusable pads throughout Africa, such as AfriPads (hyper link: in Kenya. On my first day of work, however, Julian asked Juliet and I to speak with girls at a secondary school here in Kigali. Their response to our questions about reusable pads was a resounding: “No way!” Particularly because of the challenges of washing and transporting dirty reusable pads during the school day, disposable pads are truly the best option for menstrual management in Rwanda.

I realize that SHE has already done all of this research and that I am late in joining the movement, but I just wanted to share a bit about my personal journey toward realizing that SHE has really got its hands on a sustainable solution. I am honored to have the opportunity to join such an exciting and smart company.