Today, is World Refugee Day, a day organized by the United Nations to honor refugees and create awareness about their rights. Women and girls who are fleeing conflict and persecution often have their right to safe and dignified Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) overlooked. We are shining a light on OXFAM Central African Republic (CAR) who have made great strides to include MHH in their programmes for internally displaced women and their host communities.
AFRIpads World Refugee Day Menstrual Health and Hygiene Champion!
OXFAM is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with a mission to end poverty and provide relief in emergency situations. OXFAM Central African Republic (CAR) is committed to addressing the negative impact of the humanitarian crisis in CAR. This crisis has made it complex for internally displaced women and girls’ to access Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) solutions and education.
We chose to celebrate OXFAM CAR on World Refugee day because of their advocacy and commitment to the period positive movement especially among internally displaced people. OXFAM CAR is a Menstrual Health and Hygiene Champion. In 2020, OXFAM CAR together with APSUD, a local NGO, distributed 350 AFRIpads Menstrual Kits, donated by UNICEF to returnees and host communities.
“We stay long after the dust has settled to help rebuild communities and support them in being better prepared to cope with shocks and uncertainties. We also work hard to encourage global and local policymakers to bring about the changes needed to improve the lives of those affected.”Oxfam International
The AFRIpads and OXFAM CAR Partnership
In September 2021, AFRIpads and OXFAM CAR began working together to address the MHH gaps in the humanitarian space in CAR. We kicked off our partnership with a MHH training. The OXFAM CAR team was equipped with MHH education via our MHH Education Curriculum with the aim to distribute this knowledge to community leaders.
We spoke to Clarisse Kemby, Public Health Promotion Officer at OXFAM CAR, about the importance of education, advocacy and the need to extend a helping hand to communities hosting returnees and internally displaced people (IDP).
Why did you include Menstrual Health and Hygiene services in your relief programme?
The humanitarian crisis negatively affected women’s ability to manage their menstruation. It decreased women’s purchasing power and created challenges in accessing period products. Additionally, the area of our intervention is isolated. The roads leading there are in a poor state and become worse during the rainy season.
OXFAM is a feminist organization, and as such is committed to support the communities where it works in advancing gender justice and equality. Providing women and girls with the means to safely manage menstrual health and hygiene for us is part of our feminist approach to humanitarian aid.
Lending a helping hand to host communities
Why did you include the host community as a beneficiary of your services?
Often humanitarian organizations overlook the host community yet they are experiencing difficulties too. Women in the host community can not afford essentials like menstrual products because of poverty. We strive to prevent conflict between hosts and returnees or IDPs. OXFAM CAR extends a helping hand to the hosts.
How has OXFAM advocated for Menstrual Health and Hygiene on a national level?
OXFAM is an active member of the WASH and Protection Clusters and the Gender Working Group in the Central African Republic. We are active in calling for the systematic integration of dignity and health linked to MHH in the humanitarian response and development projects
We are a feminist organization therefore women and girls are the core or our operations. Our support is beyond distribution of MHH supplies, it includes education as well. This is why we were impressed with AFRIpads unique approach where education and knowledge is freely shared. We also like that AFRIpads takes it a step further with the data collection toolkit, which helps organization measure the impact of our interventions.