Anne Kukuczka: Working on Top of the World

Anne Kukuczka: Working on Top of the World

Meet the people from around the world who work with Ruby Cup. This portrait is about Anne Kukuczka, one of the founders of Putali Nepal, an organisation that seeks to empower girls and women in Nepal.

What would you call your role within the Ruby Cup world?

I see our initiative Putali Nepal as a strategic partner as well as an ambassador for Ruby Cups.

How did you first get in touch with Ruby Cup?

I was already a user of a menstrual cup from another brand for a couple of years when I first thought about menstrual cups as an alternative to manage periods in a healthy and sustainable way in Nepal. Once I began doing more research online and compared various brands, the vision, passion and social mission of Ruby Cup struck me. Very quickly I was convinced to cup-vert. After my own experience was very positive, I was certain that I wanted to work with Ruby Cup in our first trial workshops in Nepal as well.

What makes Ruby Cup special to you?

Personally, I feel very fulfilled to work with a product that I use and trust myself, as does the whole team behind Putali Nepal. To share our own experiences is a powerful tool and to think that with our work we can contribute towards more and more women making informed choices in regards to their bodies makes me feel grateful. Besides, I love the social mission and of course the whole community aspect of Ruby Cup as a movement spanning many countries rather than only a product. All of these factors make it special to me.

Describe Ruby Cup in 3 words, please.

Mobility. Freedom. Safety.

About Anne and Putali Nepal

Anne Kukuczka is one of the founders of Putali Nepal, an organisation that seeks to empower girls and women in Nepal. When they first started their work in December 2014, menstrual cups were largely unknown in Nepal. For many individuals, activists and NGOs, Putali Nepal remains their first direct point of contact on the ground regarding information on menstrual cups. ā€œWe are happy and proud to say that we contribute to the perception of Ruby Cup as the number one high-quality menstrual cup with a social mission in Nepal and beyondā€, Anne describes her relationship with Ruby Cup.

As a trained cultural anthropologist Anne spent several years in Nepal and Nepali communities in Tibet as a language student, researcher and volunteer. She felt, however, that she wanted to do something for the women and girls there, something beyond a purely academic engagement.

ā€œAt that time my circle of close friends in Germany was already passionate about using menstrual cups ā€“ mainly for practical and ecological reasons. I knew that in Nepal menstruation remained a topic often surrounded by invisibility, secrecy and embarrassment. Besides, I saw how many Nepali women couldnā€™t afford monthly packages of sanitary napkins and would often use unhealthy ways to manage their periods.ā€

Many women and girls in Nepal lacked access to healthy, affordable long-term solutions and biomedical knowledge of the female body. After reading studies conducted in Uganda, Kenya as well as Nepal, Anne saw a huge potential to introduce Ruby Cup as an alternative product in Nepal. ā€œAnd from there we started our journey with a crowd-funding campaign.ā€

Anna and Linda from Putali Nepal.

A big challenge when introducing Ruby Cup into Nepalese communities concerns overcoming the fear to insert an object into your vagina, since tampons are largely unavailable and unknown outside of the Kathmandu valley. ā€œPersonally, for me it is also at times hard to balance sharing biomedical knowledge we grew up with in Europe and often consider as ultimate truth with treating peopleā€™s own knowledge and perceptions of bodies or periods including for example concepts such as purity-impurity based on religious cosmology with the respect they deserve.ā€

On a more practical note, cleaning Ruby Cup is also a challenge for many, as not all women are allowed to or feel comfortable to enter the kitchen space during their periods. Likewise, school toilets can be in unclean conditions or might lack running water. ā€œWhen creative solutions such as boiling the Ruby Cup in an office or a friendā€™s house are found or alternatively using a water-vinegar solution to clean the Ruby Cup at times instead of boiling, we feel really happyā€, says Anne.

But cleaning solutions are not the only way in which Nepalese Ruby Cup users get creative. According to Anne, her co-founder Linda KĆ¼hne was once asked if the Ruby Cup can be used for drinking too since itā€™s called a ā€œcupā€. While we cannot really endorse this, we always appreciate some good period humour!

Ruth Asan
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