From 3-6 June 2019, AFRIpads made the journey to Vancouver, Canada to attend the largest women’s right conference in the world – Women Deliver. This conference, which takes place every 3 years, is the ‘meeting of the minds’ for anyone involved in gender equality. This year Women Deliver brought in over 7,000 delegates from around the world united by the common denominator that tackling gender inequality is essential to global equity, human rights, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have been following Women Deliver for years, but this was the first time AFRIpads participated directly in the conference and sent representatives from our Africa team. This was triggered by our friends and colleagues at The Case for Her (TCFH), who ideated and created a marketplace with the Women Deliver exhibition area with the aim of “Making the Case for Menstruation” within the broader context of gender equality. TCFH marketplace featured a diverse range of organisations and individuals – all united by our shared commitment to advancing menstrual health. From menstrual products, to NGO’s specialising in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), to academic researchers – the marketplace was filled with experts in menstrual health management (MHM) and created an exciting and informational space for conference delegates to learn about why menstrual health is important, what is currently being done, and what challenges remain to advancing MHM across different geographies, cultures and settings around the world.
Our Founder, Sophia, was given the opportunity to host a marketplace forum where she shared the recent findings of our pilot study with UNHCR. The study highlights the importance of assessing the appropriateness and acceptability of a menstrual health intervention before scale-up in the refugee context. We were very pleased with the pilot results, which demonstrated that our reusable sanitary pads were accepted and adopted by the schoolgirls in Southwestern Uganda who participated in the pilot, and showed a significant improvement in their MHM experience post-distribution and training.
All in all, the Women Deliver conference was an action-packed 4 days and we returned to East Africa feeling inspired by the incredible work being done around the world to advance menstrual health and demystify and destigmatize the taboos that surround it. We can’t wait to see the progress that will happen in the next 3 years! Watch this space….