Irise International
Photo credit: Irise International

IriseInternational

Uganda

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Why Menstruation Matters

Menstruation matters, especially to the millions of girls being held back by their periods. Some studies show that in some parts of Uganda, 74% of girls believe that period pain is a sign of illness, 50% of girls avoid school because of their period and 43% believe that it is harmful to run or dance during their period.

Many women and girls don’t have access to sanitary products or WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) facilities and have to use towels, cloths and sawdust to manage their periods.

A lack of education about menstrual health and a lack of access to affordable sanitary products can lead to health complications, school absenteeism or school drop-out.

About Irise International

Irise International is a UK and Uganda-based organisation that educates girls about menstrual and reproductive health and makes sanitary products available and affordable in their communities.

How The Music Circle are supporting Irise

With the money raised by The Music Circle Irise will extend their work to a new area in one of the three districts where they operate in Uganda, improving the lives of 2,000 girls.

They will do so by using a menstrual hygiene education toolkit to teach 10 educators (who are usually teachers or community influencers) about menstruation and puberty. As part of their teacher training, Irise also directly teaches children and communities.

They will also train 5 women to become entrepreneurs in their communities and sell a wide range of disposable and reusable products, including menstrual cups; washable, reusable pads, and disposable pads (the latter are made available more cheaply that the going market rate). They initially give the women 3 days of training on how to run their businesses and they provide them with the products. They then visit monthly for a further 6 months.

Irise buys sanitary products in bulk, at a much cheaper price, which are then distributed to the women entrepreneurs monthly so their stock is as cheap as possible and affordable to the women and girls in their communities. During these monthly visits, the Irise team also holds support meetings and training for the women entrepreneurs, engages with local schools and raises awareness through further education programmes.

Once the local entrepreneurs are earning enough, a percentage of their sales goes towards funding these monthly visits from the Irise team, making the model sustainable. The women in the initial phase of this project now have sustainable businesses and haven’t received any financial support from Irise in 18 months.