Can Menstrual Health Change a Community?

- min read

The Ruby Women Group from Global One, Mathare, Kenya.

The struggles of women in poverty are many. Early pregnancies being perhaps one of the better known issues, but there is another big one, almost invisible and marked as a big taboo: menstruation.

This is a story about a group of 40 women, who received a Ruby Cup and the journey of opportunities this gift sparked.

Prior to this journey the women's periods were a burden. Their meager income did not allow them to buy reliable menstrual products and they were often forced to stay at home or wear the same pad (or rags) for several days.

Sex for sanitation

When talking about the lack of money for sanitary products, a serious topic came up: Sex for pads. “No man will do anything for free”, one woman said. This woman was referring to a decision many girls and women in poverty are forced to take. They are so desperate that the only way for them to get money for buying pads is by selling their body.

Exchanging sex for pads might get them the means to buy the products but it also comes with severe consequences. The biggest risk is that they end up pregnant or HIV positive.

Image of the Ruby Women Group

Providing A Solution

Aware of this issue, Global One decided to look for a sustainable change for the better and decided to support a group of their women members with Ruby Cups.

The idea was to provide 40 women with a Ruby Cup and education on female anatomy and reproductive health. This little menstrual cup should relieve them from the economic burden of buying pads every month and allow them to participate freely in daily life, regardless of menstruation - and it did. 

"I got my first period when I was looking after cattle back in the village. I did not know what was happening, I washed my panties but I only had one pair so I had to put them back on."

A couple of weeks later we received an email from Safia from Global One telling us that the women had formed a group called ‘Ruby Women Group’. This group meets weekly for support, discussion and a new project: improving the lives of more women by providing reliable menstrual products. 

Leaving The Past Behind

Having experienced the direct comparison, they all agree on one thing: no woman should have to suffer because of her period. They all want better conditions for their daughters - and fellow women. One woman for instance remembered her first period:

“I got my first period when I was looking after cattle back in the village. I did not know what was happening, I washed my panties but I only had one pair so I had to put them back on. The blood kept coming so I kept washing them and putting them back on. I was very scared and cold, I did not know what was going on.”

Another one recalls a memory of the uncomfortable situation. She had to use the same pad for much longer than hygienically safe and intended, so she said:

“Whenever someone mentioned a strange smell, you hoped it wasn’t you!”.

Safe Periods Are A Human Right

Managing your period in healthy and safe conditions should be a human right granted to all women.

That’s why the Ruby Women group decided to design and produce reusable cloth pads and sell them at affordable prices to their fellow women. This reusable sanitary towel business not only provides these women with a source of income, economic independence and entrepreneurial skills, it also empowers other women to manage their periods safely and with dignity.

 Learn more about the project in this video made by Global One:

Take action, make a difference

By buying a Ruby Cup, you support our menstrual health programmes such as this one. Leading up to 28 of May, Menstrual Health Day, Ruby Cup will donate two cups for every one cup you buy online. #Buy1Give2

Further Reading

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Why Are Girls Skipping School To Sit on Sand?
Benter Oyugi is from the Mathare Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. She is one of the first beneficiaries of Femme International...
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How much do we bleed during our period? My absurd journey through the world of menstrual research
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Many sources claim that people with periods bleed between 30 and 40 ml (3-5 teaspoons) on average during their menstr...
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Anemia and Periods -  How they are related and what you should know
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so this article does not substitute a doctor's visit. I was also consult...
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