Menstrual Hygiene and its link to WASH || We salute Ebby Weyime and the Grace Cup

During menstruation, women require access to clean water for hygiene purposes. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) therefore play a critical role in ensuring that women practice menstruation hygienically and with dignity. 

Low access to WASH infrastructure, lack of sensitization to menstruation issues, taboos and stigma surrounding this natural process, and limited access to menstrual products are major factors contributing to poor menstrual hygiene. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 is only possible when safe and dignified menstruation is anchored under WASH programs. 

A girl who drops out of school during menstruation, due to lack of adequate access to clean water, toilets and sanitary products, lowers her ability to reach her full potential and her right to education. This may also lead to her equality being jeopardized.

Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global advocacy platform that raises awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene. The day highlights challenges limiting menstrual care, and openly addresses taboos and stigmas about menstruation. 

Menstrual Health Day is celebrated annually on 28th of May and brings together the voices and actions of government agencies, civil societies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) for all women and girls. This is achieved through breaking the silence and changing the negative social norms around menstrual health. Additionally, to spark political priority and initiate action for MHM by decision makers bit nationally and globally. 

To mark the Menstrual Health Day 2022, the WULUW Initiative celebrates a young Kenyan woman who has been championing sustainable and environmentally friendly menstrual hygiene products and advocating for ease of access to these products with her innovation “The Grace Cup”. 

A fierce Menstrual health and Hygiene champion and advocate, Ebby Weyime narrates her journey towards creating sustainable menstrual health products.

Tell us about yourself – who is Ebby Weyime?

Ebby is a child-free Kenyan woman and an entrepreneur living on the Coast of Kenya and running two businesses – The Grace Cup and Mombasa shelf. The Grace Cup (TGC), is a reusable period product company that was started in 2017 and deals in menstrual cups and cloth pads.

 

What inspired you to develop The Grace Cup?

I was looking for a menstrual product that I could use. One that was environmentally friendly and cost effective. A product that could manage my menstrual experience. Initially, I would use a sanitary towel and a tampon. Until I came across a menstrual cup which I liked and turned it into a business.

 

What are your views on access to menstrual products in Kenya?

There is a lot that needs to be done in terms of access. Despite the government’s efforts to distribute disposable pads to schools, many girls lack access to menstrual products. The government supplies sanitary towels through schools, however most schools especially in rural areas and ASALs (Arid and Semi-arid) regions do not receive the support. During the pandemic, when the schools were closed, those who received sanitary towels in schools did not have access while they stayed at home. Other than the menstrual products, access to safe water and sanitation is also important in promoting access to menstrual products. For example, a cup requires adequate cleaning and sanitizing using hot water. 

 

The use of menstrual cups is not common in Kenya. What strategies do you use to increase awareness of menstrual cups?

Awareness is created through education and sensitization. Most women do not use the cup because they are not aware of its advantages – especially on the cost effectiveness. I create awareness through my social media platforms. I have seen a great impact as many women are now open to using menstrual cups and reusable pads.

 

What challenges have you had to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

The major challenge I experienced was that the reusable menstrual products were new products in the market. People did not know what a menstrual cup was. So asking someone to pay 30 dollars for a cup was hard. Many people thought the business would not thrive since they thought Kenyan women would not use a cup. Five years later “The Grace Cup” has tremendously grown and keeps on growing!

 

As a sustainable menstrual health champion and an entrepreneur, how would you define your success?

As a sustainable menstrual health champion, I would love to see at least 50% of Kenyan women using the Grace cup or any other brand that deals with reusable sanitary products. As it is good for a women’s health and it is cost effective, as well as good for the environment.

 

What are your top-most proud achievements?

One was at the end of last year, when The Grace Cup received a grant worth one million Kenyan shillings. This enabled us to scale up what we do. It shows that we are doing a good job and that people are actually appreciating.

 

What does the future of TGC look like?

I would like The Grace Cup to be more than just a reusable menstrual product. I want it to be a hub for everything womanhood – kids, safe sex, contraceptives, women’s physical and mental wellbeing.

 

Would you like to share any final sentiments?

Step-by-step, I believe Kenya will be among the top leading countries using reusable menstrual products. This is where I see the country heading not just for The Grace Cup but for other brands as well. As more people are going back to reusable menstrual products. It is time to make the switch to sustainable menstrual health and hygiene.

 

To partner with us in building an impactful and sustainable initiative or for more information about the WULUW Initiative, contact the WULUW Manager, Zoey Nyati at nyatiz@rockblue.org 

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