It’s been amazing to watch Irise grow over the years and become the organisation that we originally imagined it could become. Seeing Irise transition to involving a huge network of women and girls - all working together to achieve happier periods for all – is the most exciting step for me. I believe that women and girls should be empowered to self-determine their own approach to menstruation and I’m delighted that Irise has reached a position in which girls and their communities can set their own agenda.
What makes Irise unique? Why are you proud to be part of it?
When Irise began very few people were really taking notice of menstruation and its critical role in girls’ development. Irise was at the forefront of an increasing interest and recognition for this important stage of life and because of that we have years of experience working on this particular issue. Irise is unique because it started out with the primary goal of providing a platform to the needs of women and girls who the world otherwise ignored. I feel most proud when I see women and girls who have been involved Irise, brimming with confidence and passion whilst talking about their Irise experiences and menstruation in general.
How would you like to see the Irise network grow and develop over the coming years?
I would like to see us maximise on communication and collaboration between those in the UK and those in East Africa so that we can all share ideas, stories and learn from each other. I think encouraging as many schools, universities, churches and other community groups to be linked with the Irise network would be a great step to get the word out and bring in individuals that might otherwise not have become involved. I’d like to see collaborations between Irise and other well-known non-governmental organisations to build from their existing supporter networks.
Do you have a favourite Irise moment you could share?
My favourite memory (although there are so many, it’s difficult to choose!) is probably witnessing the first lesson being taught on global gender equality by Friend of Irise students. After setting up Friends of Irise and recruiting and training students to join the programme, there was a huge sense of achievement when I could see school girls engaging in the topic and visibly building in confidence throughout the class. This experience echoes the first time I taught about menstruation whilst East Africa and, for me, the expressions on those girls’ faces symbolises the primary intention of the organisation.