We've been working hand in hand with the community to change atttitudes to menstruation and enable girls to access the information and support they need to stay happy and health during their periods.
“Now I feel like someone.”
Being part of Irise’s program has increased Susan’s knowledge of menstruation and her confidence. She now has “no worries” during menstruation and is grateful for Irise’s efforts to lower the price of pads and make them more accessible in her school. She laughs now, as she recalls the advice she was given before she started her first period although at the time it made her feel confused and anxious. Her increased awareness of the challenges girls face during menstruation has given her a sense of purpose because she is able to help her friends who go to schools that did not participate in the program. She has also tried to normalise the topic of menstruation at home by talking to her younger sisters about menstruation so that they will be better prepared than she was.
“I remember when I was at primary school, there was a girl and it [menstruation] happened. People laughed and eventually she dropped out of school”.
Alfred used to get his knowledge of puberty and menstruation from his friends at home. He was told that blood from periods was dangerous and it was common for boys to laugh and humiliate young girls going through changes that the girls themselves didn’t really understand. Irise’s lessons have changed this- and made him and his friends realise that menstrual blood is not dangerous.
One of his sisters is going through puberty, and he has helped her feel comfortable about the changes she is going through- it feels good to be a supportive big brother!
“It allows me to buy soap, perfumes (toiletries) and more. They call me musowe, which means health-worker and they know me now.”
Rose has been working with Irise selling pads for nearly a year. She gets pads, training and support from Irise and provides a door to door service across multiple local areas from her purple Irise bag. This means that she can talk to girls and educate them about menstrual health as she goes. She is increasingly recognised in the local area as someone that can be relied upon for guidance. Now that people know her, she envisions having her own shop and selling on a larger scale to reach more people. Irise has also helped her build her confidence and she is becoming involved in local politics and campaigning for change for her community.
“I can now buy chalk and manila paper for my students. I hope to sell Irise products in the future when I am a teacher.”
Julia is 24 years old and training to be a teacher near Jinja. She’s been selling pads since 2017, going from door to door around her neighbourhood providing girls with an opportunity to purchase pads with ease and at an affordable price. Julia values the flexibility of working in collaboration with Irise which has allowed her to balance her studies with work that helps fund her dream of being a teacher. With the profits she makes from selling these pads she can buy supplies for her own studies and for her students. Her position as a teacher has enabled her to take the Irise products into school and reach children that may not have otherwise had access.