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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cup) 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: http://www.divacup.com/en/home/menstrual_health/), 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: http://lunapads.com/). There are several companies that produce reusable pads throughout Africa, such as AfriPads (hyper link: http://www.afripads.com/) 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.

Megan

3 comments:

amy : ) said...

Thanks for sharing the different menstrual hygiene options. I don't know anyone who has used a menstrual cup so this was interesting. Have you tried the SHE pads? how did you find them compared to other pads?

Cheers to SHE for their sustainable approach that fits in the local context of Rwanda!

Lucie said...

Hello Morgan, I appreciate your post giving persuasive arguments about why a SHE's pant is a better option than a cup for the whole Rwandan women. Actually, just before to move here I bought a cup too!I have to say it is the best ever for me.
By the way, I'm really interested in you initiative, could you give me the contact details of your office in Kigali. thanks! Lucie

Megan Strickland said...

Amy and Lucie, thanks so much for your comments! To answer your question, Amy, no one has tried the SHE pad yet, but the trials so far have shown that it has a similar level of absorbency as other pads on the market. The SHE team is excited to be able to start using and distributing SHE pads in the future! Lucie, if you'd like to give us a visit, then we'd love to meet a supporter of SHE (and I'd love to talk to you about menstrual cups!). Our office is in Kicukiro near Sonatubes. Feel free to shoot me at email at megan@sheinnovates.com.