#MenstruationMatters sign with Nadia and teen girls

Celebrate the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day!

What are you doing on May 28th?

You can join us in celebrating the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day. On this day, organizations from across the globe will be busting taboos associated with menstruation and menstrual hygiene so girls and women will no longer have to lose out on days of school and work, improve their health and well-being, and most importantly, reclaim their dignity.

You can join into the festivities too! You can join Nadia and Eloise (featured above) and  create your own #MenstruationMatters sign. Just print it out and take a picture of yourself with your reason why #MenstruationsMatters to you! Put it online (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and let’s get #MenstruationMatters & #MenstrualHygiene trending on Twitter on MH Day! 

Share the Menstrual Hygiene infographic on your favorite social media platform and use these fact sheets as great conversation starters to get people talking about Menstrual Hygiene.

Menstrual Hygiene Day Infographic courtesy of WASH United

Image courtesy of WASH United. Download here: http://menstrualhygieneday.org/new-infographic/

 

 

 

Introducing go!

goPads_PackageFront-01

By Connie Lewin, Strategic Partnerships and Marketing Director

Our branding process all started when I stood outside in front of 200+ girls and boys on the campus of a rural Rwandan school and we began discussing menstruation. I expected to only meet with 8-10 girls when I arrived at the school, but soon learned that it’s very common to receive a warm welcome from the entire school when you’re a new visitor.

After an awkward start when my colleague and I began introducing ourselves and what we do at SHE, the mood quickly shifted when one (brave) girl asked a question, “Can I play soccer when I am menstruating?” I’m sure a surprised look came across my face because she asked me the question again. I replied back “Of course, you can!” A sense of relief took over her body. Suddenly, more and more girls asked questions related to what they stopped doing when they had their period – laughing, dancing, riding a bike, doing chores, and going to school.

I soon began to realize that girls were missing out on more than having access to a pad; to those who even used menstrual products, they felt like they couldn’t move or do anything because if you’re “sick,” you should just stay at home.

Informed with this first-hand knowledge, the team and I began the branding process of our banana-fiber maxi-pad with these questions in mind:

 “How can we build a brand that will change the way girls think about menstruation?”

“How do we use our brand to work toward our larger goals of driving social and economic change?”

“How do we make sure our brand is used as a strategic asset, so girls can directly benefit?”

It took hundreds of conversations with girls, brainstorms and ideations within the team, and an on-street survey to develop a brand identity that we hope will change the way Rwandans think about menstruation.

go! is global. We decided to have it bi-lingual to show that will our brand is locally made, it has global aspirations to connect and serve girls in many communities. (P.S. Nshyashya means brand new)

gois bold.We’re rocking bold colors selected by the girls themselves; go! is for girls, by girls.

go! will be delivered to girls this year, and we can’t wait to see their reactions and learn more about their go! experiencesWe will be sharing more photos and testimonials about go! throughout the year, so stay tuned.

What do you think? Who do you feel we are? Let us know in the comments.

HAHA Beat: SHE featured as a case study in recent UNESCO report

Guest Post from Global Health Intern Sereena Singh

Working with SHE as a Global Health Intern, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a remarkable and groundbreaking event that announced the publication of “Puberty Education and Menstrual Hygiene Management: Booklet 9”, a key document published by UNESCO in partnership with Proctor and Gamble. This is particularly exciting since SHE was included as a case study for our dual-pronged business approach and advocacy work to addressing menstrual hygiene at the school level.

The event included a first-hand account about the impact of the menstrual hygiene management crisis from a young woman from India. Ameira works for the YP Foundation in New Delhi, India, and did not learn about proper menstrual hygiene until she was 18 years old and attended a health workshop. She is now working with young girls and women in India on educating them about menstrual hygiene. UNESCO Director, Irina Bokova, stated that puberty should be a turning point and not a barrier for these girls. Menstrual hygiene management deserves the upmost attention to help keep girls in school, and feel confident about themselves.

I have been interning with SHE for almost 8 months now, and I’m proud to say that the work we have been doing and continue to do so has helped many women in Rwanda to become game-changers of menstrual hygiene management. This is a major feat in the ongoing battle that many other young women in developing countries face. With already precarious health and educational infrastructures in these countries, shining light on this issue and pulling these women out of ignominy is what will endow them with the confidence to overcome the fears and shames of menstruation. It is with highest hopes that this booklet serves as a reminder of how far we have come and how much further we need to go. While this publication represents a shining beacon of progression, we must continue to break the silence, foster confidence, and empower these amazing young women around the world.

As Joyce McFadden stated, “If a girl cannot feel at home in her own body, she cannot feel at home anywhere.” No young girl or woman should ever feel ashamed of herself because of her body, PERIOD.

There’s a New SHE in Town!

Today, we are launching our updated brand on our redesigned website! This new brand identity is more than a design makeover; it reflects who we are today, and where we’re going. 

Six years after launching SHE, we’ve learned is that it takes tenacity to disrupt the status quo and create change.

Debunking stereotypes

Reclaiming local resources

Investing in new ideas and people

Launching entrepreneurs to improve lives

Our four words, along with our mission statement, are a living and accurate reflection of who we are and how we work today.

2014 will be a major year for SHE as we move forward with our industrial-scale pilot to produce pads for 3,000 schoolgirls attending our ten partners schools and youth centers in the Kayonza district of Rwanda. As SHE continues to evolve, we will look to our brand to stay true to our approach.

Finally, we’ve changed our identity to mark this new chapter. We worked with Blok Design to create a brand identity that needed to capture the heart and soul of a brand that strengthens women and girls to stand tall and proud. Therefore the wordmark “stands tall,” emphasized by the bold underscore and color palette.

Our photos were also taken by two superb photographers and friends of SHE:

  • Finnish photographer Perttu Saralampi, whose photos are featured in the carousel on our homepage as well as throughout the site. Check out more of his work here:  http://perttusaralampi.tumblr.com/
  • New Zealander Tash McCarroll who spent a lot of time with our staff at our Ngoma production site to capture our progress. View more of her work here: http://tashmccarroll.com/

Please explore our redesigned website, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Ain’t no stopping us now – SHE’s on the move!

Elizabeth and the SHE Team

So Fresh, So Clean

Here’s our latest Ngoma update from Tyson Huffman, our Acting Chief of Production:

We have made large strides in our goal of producing 30,000 pads a month for our pilot phase.  To make the production site ready for inspection by the Bureau of Standards we fixed many sanitation issues.  We patched our floors and ceilings.  We painted inside and out.  The color scheme has let’s everyone know in town that we are operating in our building.  Bright and vibrant colors were used and the final results look fantastic. What do you think?

New Paint (8)

Our building’s exterior with our new SHE brand colors

The inside of our Ngoma production center with our go! brand colors!

A completely sealed room was needed for pad assembly.  We knocked down walls, replaced doors with windows and added a sliding glass door.  Lights and electrical sockets were added.  Stainless steel tables were manufactured to ensure that our assembly surface is as sanitary as possible.  We put in our pad assembler, scales, arbor presses, sachet sealer, and heat stamp.

New pad assembly room

Our new pad assembly room from the outside. We added a sliding glass door to ensure that we have a sealed area.

New windows at Ngoma production site

We also added windows to make the facility brighter and to invite any curious onlookers to take a peek!

Only two things remain to put us in full pilot scale manufacturing.  Our UV sanitation boxes have been manufactured and will be installed early this week.  We also need to create positive pressure within the assembly room to ensure that no insects or dust can enter the room.  We have this equipment and it will be up and going this week.

All of our equipment is tested and we’re ready to go!

Happy National Inventors’ Day!

You don’t have to celebrate only Valentine’s Day this week, because today is National Inventor’s Day!While the most famous of inventors and makers in history is Thomas Edison, there are thousands of unknown inventors and makers that are improving lives, health and incomes. Did you know who invented the toilet? Believe it or not, it’s not Thomas Crapper, but Sir John Harington.

In honor of the day, let’s share the love with the maker types among us and spread the word about our patent-pending innovation of transforming banana fiber into fluff!
Ngoma productions staff

A few more additions to the SHE holiday office party

Earlier this year, we set up shop for our large-scale production in the Ngoma district. In the past few months, we have built out our factory, added electricity and water, installed our machinery, and have successfully produced fluff! These are huge wins! Now, we are on our way to making pads, and we have built a great team at our Ngoma production site. Without further ado, meet our latest SHE Trailblazers that are part of Team SHE! Scroll below to learn more about Nadine, Gaudence, Sandrine, Marie Louise Umulisa, Ernestine, Marie Louise Murereyimana, Christine, and Sam!

Ernestine (first from left, top row): Before working with SHE, I was working with Tigo as a money transfer agent. I like being a part of SHE because it deals with menstruation and help people to have access to pads. I also enjoy that I am learning new things on the job.

In my free time, I like hanging out with friends, and singing in a choir. My dream is to pursue my studies in sociology and become an entrepreneur.

Marie Louise, Production Team Leader (middle, top row): I am married and have two children, a daughter and a son. Prior to joining SHE, I had a small shop selling food. I am a local leader in charge of development in my village. Since joining SHE, my life has changed. I have made new friends among my colleagues and decided to return to school to learn English. When I tell my friends that I work at the factory that makes pads, they are impressed and this makes me feel proud. My dream is to pursue my studies in community development and launch an organization that assists people like SHE.

Gaudence (at left, third photo, top row): My name is Gaudence but everyone calls me Mimi. I studied literature and linguistics at secondary school. Prior to joining SHE, I was working as a matron in at a boarding school in Matimba. I am glad that I am learning how to make pads, since it’s a very useful product that I can’t live without each month. I like that SHE is making pads at an affordable price. In my free time, I like to pray, help my parents with house work, and to sing in a choir. My dream is to have a happy family and be able to provide all things that my children need.

Sandrine (right of Gaudence): My name is Sandrine. I am married with 3 children – I have 1 boy and 2 girls. At school, I studied electricity. I am very excited to be a SHE employee because I want to pursue my career in the technical field.

When I heard about SHE and its work, I thought it would be a nice place for me to work for as a woman. Usually no one talks about menstruation in public and I like that SHE is trying to change things. My dream is to continue my studies in a technical field. This is my first time working in a factory and I am proud of that because I was once told that women could never work in a factory. I’m glad that SHE has now made that possible.
Dany, Production Manager (left, middle row): When I learned what SHE was doing, he realized that my mechanical skills would make me a perfect fit. I am excited to have the opportunity to help the women of my country.Nadine (far right, middle row): My name is Nadine and I am passionate about learning new things. Before joining SHE, I was working as an accountant at Anglican church. What I like about SHE’s work is that I making products with my hands. I want to pursue my studies in technology because with technology things always change. I also like fashion. In my free time, I like to sing, follow fashion trends and watch movies.

Christine (left, bottom row): I studied Information and Technology at secondary school and worked as a salesperson for a fertilizer company. SHE has given me the opportunity to learn new things and also help my community.

Many people still lack access to the right information about menstruation so it’s important that SHE continue to take the lead and inform people. In the future, I would like to build a nice house for my parents and pursue my studies.

 Samuel (middle, bottow row): At secondary school, I studied car mechanics. Before joining SHE, I worked in a hair salon that I also own. I like my job at SHE because it fits with my career goals. I am learning new things and also enjoy my colleagues.

Marie Louise  (right, bottom row): I am married and have one son. What I liked about SHE is that it employs women to work in a factory. It is unusual for women to be working in a factory since many bosses fear that when a woman become pregnant, she will not work as hard as a man.

I also serve as a community health worker in my village. I have realized that menstruation itself is not a problem; the problem is that girls and women do not know how to manage it.
Ever since I was young, I dreamt of becoming a doctor. Although I am not one, I am happy to be working in the health sector. Today I dream of working hard to be able to support my family and to have a happy life.

#SHEReclaims Holiday Campaign has Launched!

Photo Credit: Perttu Saralampi
Art Design: Tash McCarroll

Today is the launch of our SHE RECLAIMS Holiday Campaign.

What does SHE RECLAIMS mean? It means much more than transforming leftover banana fiber into SHE LaunchPad.

It means that for the 3,000 Rwandan school girls who will receive our pads next year, the SHE LaunchPad will help them RECLAIM their education, productivity, health, and dignity.

Here are a few ways that you can trailblaze with us:


1. Investing today in our large-scale production pilot to deliver SHE LaunchPads to 3,000 Rwandan schoolgirls for the 2014 school year.


Become a SHE Pioneer

2. Introducing us to your friends, family, and your 7th grade teacher by sharing our SHE28 campaign video 


3. Tweeting your friends to take action. Here are our favorites:
  • A 3-cent maxi-pad can change the world. I am helping girls reclaim their place in the classroom by joining @SHEnterprises #SHERECLAIMS (click to tweet)
  • Investing in girls’ hygiene is KEY to reclaiming education, health, productivity & dignity #SHERECLAIMS (click to tweet)
  • Girls should not miss out because they lack access to maxi-pads & menstrual education! Join me in helping #SHERECLAIM her right to dignity (click to tweet)
  • I’m helping girls RECLAIM their full potential at school with access to maxi-pads @SHEnterprises. Together, #SHERECLAIM dignity for all (click to tweet)
4. Sharing our SHE RECLAIMS campaign images on Facebook:

Download here
Download here

Photo Credit and Design: Tash McCarroll Photography

Together, we can #SHERECLAIM dignity for all.

I’ll be sharing more about the SHE Reclaims Holiday Campaign over the coming weeks. In the meantime, please join us this holiday season.

Stay tuned!

Elizabeth and the entire SHE team

Woot woot! Elizabeth Scharpf and Julian Kayibanda are 2013 Grinnell Prize Winners

The 2013 Grinnell Prize—a $100,000 award presented to young innovators in social justice – has been awarded to Chief Instigating Officer Elizabeth Scharpf and COO, Rwanda, Julian Kayibanda! If any of you are in Iowa next week from November 3 – 9, you will have a chance to meet Elizabeth and Julian during the week-long Grinnell Prize Symposium!

The Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize (also known as the Grinnell Prize) honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. Each prize carries an award of $100,000, half to each winning individual (or individuals) and half to an organization committed to the winner’s area of social justice. For more information, including information go to www.grinnell.edu/grinnellprize.

Read the press release here:  http://prn.to/19N6cQs

Watch our Grinnell Prize Award video here:

Large-scale fluff production has begun!

Editor Note: Have you been dying to know what’s been happening at our Ngoma production site? The wait is over! You can learn first-hand from Tyson Huffman, MacGyver-in-Residence, in our mini blog series in three parts. Read today’s final post out of our mini series.  Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Come meet our production team: Gaudance, Ernestine, Sandrine, Louise, Christine, Nadine, and Daniel, along with Sylvere, our Business Development Officer (in red shirt).

As I write this, we are in full fluff production at our facility! We have hired eight employees and a manager and they are performing above expectations. We ran our machines all day for three days and produced copious amounts of high quality fluff that are ready to become LaunchPads.

Again, how did we get to the point where we are producing fluff? We have the tools, we have the people, and now we have the fluff. Even though we were still working out the kinks we produced a lot of fluff. As I write this I have been watching our manager, Daniel, work out some bugs the refiner is having. I’ve only had to help him once. He is currently teaching a team member to troubleshoot problems. As a restaurant manager, I found the two hardest things to find in a manager are someone who can quickly troubleshoot and train his colleagues. We have hitched our wagon to a star here with Daniel.

From banana fiber to fluff: our team and facility in action!

We will soon have more fluff than we know what to do with. Maybe we could manufacture pillows on the side? I have a few more ideas that I may be able to get done before I leave. They will speed up some of the process.

For all of our supporters, followers, and team members I have one last message: WE DID IT GUYS, THANKS TO YOU!