President Bill Clinton Signs the SHE LaunchPad

We can't believe that it's only been 4 years since SHE was invited to the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting that calls on CEOs, Heads of State, NGOs, and individuals to put their ideas, minds, and resources together to address some of the world's most pressing problems.

SHE rocked CGI in 2009 with President Bill Clinton and he held the LaunchPad on stage! We wanted President Clinton to be reunited with the SHE LaunchPad again and better yet, sign off on SHE and our 2HE28 campaign with his autograph. 

He gladly signed on and debunked taboos by signing our SHE LaunchPad! 

SHE will be at the Women Deliver Conference, May 28th - May 30th

SHE will participate in several events during the conference: 

Tuesday, May 28th, 12:00 pm - 12:25 pm, Exhibit Hall 2, Hospitality Suite 2: 

View our SHE28 Campaign Video at Cinema Corner
Wednesday, May 29th, 11:15 am – 11:30 am, Speaker's Corner, Exhibit Hall
Learn more about our advocacy and education initiatives during our industrial-scale pilot from Jackie Mupenzi, SHE's Advocacy and Policy Manager

Thursday, May 30th, 11:00 am - 11:45 am, Exhibit Hall 5
Witness social enterprise in action as SHE's Jackie Mupenzi serves as a judge at the Social Enterprise Challenge

If you can't join SHE at the conference, you can attend Women Deliver 2013 virtually through its website at or follow the action via its blog or Twitter using hashtag #wd2013.

The HAHA Beat: Menstrual Talk Hits the Rwandan Airwaves

Hi all,

This is Jackie, SHE Rwanda's Advocacy and Policy Manager, and I am excited to share an update from the HAHA (Health and Hygiene Advocacy) Team. We had our first live radio talk show on May 13th that was co-sponsored by our partners, VSO, to raise awareness on menstrual health issues in Rwanda.

I was joined by my colleague Nadia, SHE's Health and Hygiene Officer, Mukasine Caroline, a member of the Maternal and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Uwimbabazi Sylvie, from the Ministry of Education. 

At the beginning of the talk show, every participant was given time to express what they are doing in terms of supporting girls in to manage this issue; I explained how SHE works in partnership with other partner organizations and government agencies to raise awareness, provide training, and work with schools in order to break the silence around menstruation and menstrual hygiene and also to share best practices of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). SHE also talked about its advocacy in terms of tax exemption so as to have affordable and access to sanitary products.

-    The Ministry of Health talked about how they raise awareness of MHM within its reproductive health sensitization programs, while the Ministry of Education confirmed its support of MHM by promoting the addition of girls’ rooms at schools and its basic requirements at all primary and secondary schools. They also talked about its financial support of MHM through its allocation of sanitation funds to schools.

We changed topics during the talk show to discuss how we menstrual health and hygiene awareness:
  • Is menstruation really a challenge in schools?
  • What is the response from the Ministry of Health to it?
  • What are some of the inputs form the Ministry of Education to address the challenge?
  • An overview of menstruation and its current management at the school setting
  • Answering the audience's questions around menstruation
Below are some of the questions asked and this clearly shows the menstrual hygiene education is critical and needs to be widespread since taboos and incorrect beliefs around the topic is still an issue: 
  • Most parents still consider menstruation as a sickness and often keep their daughters at home. Several of them called and asked whether their daughter is sick or if this something normal. 
  • What are those days that one would consider to be safe days in one's menstrual cycle?
  • When is it likely for a girl to become pregnant? Is it really safe that if you have sex with a girl during her period, that she will never become pregnant?
  • Why is it that some girls experience serious pain during their menstruation while others do not?
  •  What are some medicines or ways of reducing the pain during periods?
  • Are there some other products that one can use apart from pads during menstruation since pads are expensive?
  • Why is it that some women have their period/menstruation but at time do not give birth or never become pregnant?

       Another person called Maniracyiza, called just to say thanks for the discussion.

-   Based on questions asked from the audience, from the community and some more that were not answered due to time constraints, we would like to raise our voices as a call for action to all other organizations in support of girls' issues to join SHE's efforts in one or all three ways: (1) to raise awareness around MHM; (2) to lobby for policy change in schools as a way of raising MHM knowledge; and (3) to ask policy makers to waive taxes on pads so as to have them accessible and affordable.

Our next steps are to follow up with Radio Rwanda because they agreed to offer us more radio airtime and to host a show about menstrual hygiene again since there were so many questions still unanswered from the public. Exciting!

Thank you,
SHE's Advocacy and Policy Manager

Let's toast to pad production machines in Rwanda!

For those of you who have run the SHE race with us, the journey has been long but you can raise your glasses and let's toast to our pad production machines arriving in Rwanda. We are ready to launch the "LaunchPad!"

Since January 2013, I have been feeling like an expecting mother; from procuring machines to finding shippers to the nearest port of entry to Rwanda and after 2 months of waiting; the machines finally landed a month ago. The excitement, the anxiety, etc, took all  the better of me. Just the sight of the machines drove my passion even deeper.

Julian geeking out with one of our pad production machines!

Now that the machines are settled, our energy is high again with the recruitment and training of the local technicians. Exciting!

In other news, for the past 4 weeks, the Rwanda office has been buzzing with activity from the entire SHE team, well part of the team (SHE is more than just NY and Rwanda office). 

Julian, Jackie, and CeCe 

Cece, Connie and Elizabeth have been hanging out in the Rwanda office immersing themselves in a range of things from creating menstrual health manuals to testing the pad brand to visiting the production sites and pausing for pictures, of course we also made sure we took pictures of the only SHE staff members who loves asking for pictures but not taking them, Connie! 

SHE Team Minus CeCe!

-Julian, SHE Rwanda COO

Where Acumen, Balloons and Theatre Come to Play….

Sometimes when you are in a fellowship like Acumen, you are thinking "Oh great, I am going to learn how to do a business plan, develop one, learn the basics around project management," etc. However, the approach is what is interesting; it's not your usual sit and listen. 

In the first workshop, we spent 5 days practicing our elevator pitches, engaging in design-thinking activities led by IDEO, presenting our life maps, and writing letters to ourselves. We shall open this one day to see whether we have become those people we hoped to be in the letters. I know people dying to read my letter. Duh! It's mine.

One interesting exercise was the balloon blowing, in which each of us had to pick a balloon and write on it their possible distractions from concentrating on the workshop. The idea was that after putting them down, we will then burst the balloon, as a sign that we have let go of those distractions. It was funny; we all had a moment where we held onto our distractions and we did not want to let go. It's not because we did not want to be at the workshop, but it's because these are things that define our daily lives, they are who we are and if we let them go, then we stop being who we are. But, we had to do so to be able to fully learn from the workshop. Learn we did!

The second seminar was even better. First, we were expected do some immense reading on ‘society reading’, and with Jacqueline Novogratz herself as moderator, some of the regions’ great minds (my East African fellows) unleashed in heated discussion.  To crown the week, we spent time with the Acumen Global Fellows on learning the art of communication from theatre experts and playing games. We learned of level 1-3 voices.

Julian (bottom left) with her East Africa Acumen Fellows engage in an IDEO design-thinking workshop.

Guess what is the next activity of the fellowship program? It features a trip to any one of the countries in the region, and OF COURSE, or at least as you might expect, Rwanda is the case study on May 27th and my EA colleagues will be here in Rwanda! That's not all what is left of the program; there's one more workshop and an innovations conference.

Oh, my favourite parts are the phone basket, where we keep all our electronics so we do not get distracted, and the week's supply of snacks that is over by day one.

Julian, SHE COO, Rwanda