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Access to menstrual hygiene management empowers girls and keeps them in school.

Ruby Cup is empowering girls by providing them with menstrual cups, a long-lasting menstrual hygiene solution that lets them stay in school and reach for all the opportunities that come with an education.

Photo of An Old Friend
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Menstrual taboos and limited access to menstrual hygiene represents a huge barrier for low-income women and girls around the world: tampons and pads are often unaffordable, substitutes are often unsafe, and many girls miss school during their period and end up dropping out altogether.

Menstrual cups like Ruby Cup are an invaluable product for women and girls in impoverished areas. They collect menstrual flow instead of absorbing it and can be reused for up to 10 years -- that means a girl can complete her schooling from primary school to college without having to worry about her period. The Ruby Cup is made of 100% medical-grade silicone, so it's safe and healthy.

Ruby Cup is a social company that works on a one-for-one model: for every menstrual cup sold in an industrialized country, one goes to a schoolgirl in Kenya. Because empowerment is essential to this project, every girl pays a small symbolic price, usually 100 Kenyan shillings, for her menstrual cup, helping her to feel ownership over it. Currently, the company is working to bring Ruby Cups to 5,000 girls through an Indiegogo campaign.

When girls can attend school without worrying about their periods, so many doors open up for them. Education is an essential route to social, economic, and political empowerment. Increased status and influence in their communities is one important step in creating a culture of safety for women and girls.

This post is a result of a discussion had by the Berlin OpenIDEOers group
/ March 2014.


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Photo of Meena Kadri

Interesting stuff, Miranda. Do you know how they got / will get girls onboard to use this new device? Could be some good leanings there on addressing topics which folks don't usually openly talk about which could be really useful on our challenge.

Photo of An Old Friend

Great question! I know one aspect involved the design; the company consulted girls on what they'd like -- what they think is cool -- when designing the packaging for the Ruby Cup.

The more important piece is that the Ruby Cup team in Kenya provides reproductive health education along with distribution. This takes place in an all-girls setting and often in the classroom, where their teachers can also be engaged in the conversation. You can find out more Ruby Cup's work in the field here:

I think safe spaces and open discussions are key for making new initiatives seem attractive and keeping the conversation on health and empowerment going, beyond that initial day of giving and training.

Photo of Jes Simson

Thanks for sharing Miranda! Do you think there is any way we could enlist other companies to create a similar one-for-one program to give more girls access to menstrual cups?

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