Photo Credit: Water For Women
The theme for Menstrual Heath Day 2021 is It’s Time for Action. Nobody understands this more than Mary Elizabeth Ramosaea, also known as Emjay, the Business Director for Kaleko SteiFree Solomon Islands.
Based in Honiara, Kaleko SteiFree is a social enterprise that produces affordable and comfortable reusable menstrual pads. They also facilitate training programs with women and men in schools and communities to improve knowledge of menstrual health.
Having worked in the Solomon Islands on menstrual health for the last four years, Emjay has a thorough understanding of the challenges that can impact the physical and emotional wellbeing of women and girls. Access to the right information about menstrual health is one of the key challenges in the Solomon Islands.
‘Basic information that is very simple, that can be contextualised and understandable, whether it's in schools, the community or household level. There's a huge gap in that space,” explains Emjay.
A lack of available, affordable products and well-maintained water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are other barriers for communities to manage their menstrual health with dignity.
In order to create behaviour change surrounding knowledge and attitudes towards menstruation, Kaleko SteiFree partnered with Plan International and Live & Learn to create a facilitation guide, Improving Menstrual Health; A Toolkit for Community Facilitators in Solomon Islands.
Launched as part of Menstrual Health Day, the resource was produced through the New Times, New Targets Project, on behalf of the Australian Government.
“The menstrual health guide, I think for the first time in the history of the Solomon Islands, is a roadmap for practitioners like us. We now have a tool or a vehicle where we can get into the community with a coordinated kind of lens. It provides a huge hope for us, I think that’s one of the amazing things about this guide,” says Emjay.
Emjay expects the guide to be able to be applied to all men and women, not just school age girls.
‘I think one of the interesting things with a menstrual health guide like this is that It integrates an approach that looks at different structures of the community, ‘There is something for every different age level and so it pretty much it cuts across all the different structures of a society. I think what's really powerful about this tool, is it's for everyone.’
View or download Improving Menstrual Health; A Toolkit for Community Facilitators in Solomon Islands here.
Menstrual Health Day is a global movement which seeks to promote awareness, advocacy and action for menstrual health and hygiene around the world. Menstrual Health Day is being celebrated on Friday 28 May 2021.