The Twaweza Program
Femme International currently runs The Twaweza Program with schools and community groups across Kenya and Tanzania. Femme has built the Program as an education-based approach to menstrual health management (MHM), using years of experience, lessons learned, and feedback from program beneficiaries.
In Swahili, “twaweza” means “we can”, because this is a problem we can fix. It is not rocket science – it is the menstrual cycle.
To achieve Femme’s mission, our program has two major components; education and distribution. The combination of these components is crucial to the success of our program, and is an integral role in improving girls’ attendance, every day of the month.
Education is essential to breaking down the taboos that are holding women and girls back from achieving their full potential. Through education, men and women can initiate and contribute to conversations within their communities to educate others and spread the message that menstruation is a perfectly normal bodily function. It is a giver of life.
Femme works by partnering with local schools and community-based organizations to deliver the Twawezat Program to women and girls across East Africa. Femme’s team of Program Officers lead a series of interactive workshops that aim to empower girls to be confident within their bodies, and ensure that menstruation does not cause them to miss school. The workshops not only educate about the human body, but also open up conversations to break down taboos surrounding menstruation and gender. Each workshop is unique to the participants and their situation, however, key themes are: puberty, reproductive anatomy, sexual health, body hygiene, menstruation, and menstrual management.
Key to the success of these workshops is the creation of a safe space for participants to ask questions about their body. In the past, discussion has often evolved to include more sensitive topics such as sexual health, rape, masturbation and loss of virginity. It is the establishment of this safe space that makes the Twaweza Program especially effective, as this might be the first and only opportunity for the girls to open discussions about these subjects.
Educational Aims and Objectives
Femme Kits are distributed to all beneficiaries of the Twaweza Program, and are designed to contain everything a woman needs to manage her menstrual cycle in a safe and sustainable way. The central component of the Femme Kits is a reusable menstrual management product; either a menstrual cup or washable pads. Both options are sustainable and remove the financial burden of menstruation. They provide safe and environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable pads or other more unhygienic methods of menstrual management.
Program beneficiaries are allowed to choose if they want a menstrual cup or reusable pads, which ensures agency over a personal decision.
Access to sanitary pads is a major challenge for many women and girls in communities across East Africa, due to financial constraints as well as lack of access. Women often resort to using homemade methods of menstrual management, which can be ineffective, uncomfortable, and unhygienic.
The Kits also include a bar of soap in a protective container, a small towel, and a steel bowl in which to boil and sterilize the cup. Each participant also receives a Twaweza workbook to use during the workshop and to take home as a resource.
Femme Kits ensure that girls always have the tools they need to safely manage their menstrual cycles. Not having sanitary products should not stop a girl from attending and excelling in school.
To learn more about the Twaweza Program curriculum or to access our tools, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!