Project empowers women in reproductive health

A project funded by the Australian High Commission and implemented by not-for-profit organisation Brown Girl Woke has enabled women and girls to have access to vital hygiene supplies and training in menstrual health.

B.G.W. founder and President, Maluseu Doris Tulifau, said over the last seven weeks essential supplies as well as workshops in menstrual health and hygiene have been delivered to women and girls in the community, in partnership with the National University of Samoa [N.U.S.] School of Nursing and Health Science under the auspices of the Periodt Project.

She said the N.U.S. personnel ran the workshops and did pre and post surveys to collect data on all the women and their knowledge of periods. The connection of period to a woman’s health was also highlighted during the workshops.

The project was rolled out over the past seven weeks which enabled the B.G.W. to distribute 50 packs of reusable pads, four holders, six inserts, wash cloth, panties, soap and water resistant bag for reusable pads. 

Maluseu said the B.G.W. was able to identify the girls and women, who needed the assistance, through their relationship with the villages who had previously participated in their grocery, water tanks and electricity projects.

“So because of our relationship, we wanted to also do this project there because we already established trust,” added.

A number of women and girls who participated in the workshops said they had never participated in discussions before about women's menstrual health, according to the non-government organisation. 

Maluseu further emphasised that the supplies were accepted by the women and girls with some of them sharing how life-changing the reusable pad was for them after they received it.  

One of the younger girls revealed that she now feels more confident and comfortable going to school without worrying about anything. 

"I feel much better now and very comfortable. I don't have to worry anymore when I go to school in case my period stains my school uniform," she said.

Another older girl said that it's been great as she didn't have to spend money to buy pads.

"I love how after it's been used, I can wash them and then use it again. It's also helped us financially.”

Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sara Moriarty, said they are very pleased to partner with B.G.W on this initiative to ensure women and girls receive essential sexual and reproductive health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She added that it is a priority under the health security pillar of Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery Strategy. 

“We hope that the workshops provided girls and women with a safe and comfortable environment in which to discuss menstrual hygiene,” she said. “And that the reusable menstrual pads will be an economical and environmentally friendly addition to their menstrual hygiene routine.” 

The project is funded by the Australia High Commission with a grant of $10,000 in the first round of the Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program in 2019-20 to provide menstrual health and hygiene education to girls. 

The funding was used to purchase materials to make and conduct training on the use of reusable menstrual pads, and to create an environment which allows discussion on menstrual hygiene. 

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