Maria Carmen Punzi, Menstrual Health researcher with the new Ruby Cup toolkit.
At Ruby Cup, we’ve made responsible giving a central part of our company philosophy since day one. Not only do we donate a menstrual cup for every cup purchased, but we also ensure that every single recipient also has the opportunity to take part in educational workshops and mentorship programmes. Program participants learn how to use their new cup, and are also given information about menstrual care and reproductive health.
To ensure that our workshops and education programs are impactful, we work with local partners in every area where we donate. That way, we can work with people who understand the local context and who can identify the recipients who will benefit most from a menstrual cup.
Over the past few months, we’ve been working closely with our partner organisations to create a brand new trainers toolkit - Me and My Cup. The kit consists of a tried and tested menstrual health curriculum, a trainers’ manual, and a handbook to be given out to each recipient of a Ruby Cup.
Why is menstrual health education important?
In many countries, if not most countries, periods are still considered an off-limits, taboo topic. As a result, many young girls start their periods without knowing what’s happening to their bodies or who to speak to about it.
Ruby Cup’s mission is to enable all people to live their periods safely and with dignity, regardless of their income. In addition to providing a sustainable menstrual health solution through our Buy One, Give One program, we also strive to dismantle menstrual taboos and deliver sound education on reproductive health and menstrual care.
The new toolkit aims to offer ideas for how to approach these topics in ways that will feel approachable for participants. “The curriculum in the new toolkit has been very useful in handling topics on female anatomy,” says Vanessa Kivugale, Lead Trainer for Ruby Cup. “It includes focus group discussions and fun drawing activities which come in handy during the sessions.”
Learning from Experience
Together with our international partners, we’ve been donating Ruby Cups since 2012. Over the years, we’ve all gained a lot of experience and insight into how to run a successful menstrual health education program. To pool this collective knowledge, we got together with our donation partners from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and created the new trainer’s toolkit. Representatives from our delivery partners Womena, Ruby Life, Femme International, Cup Effect and Golden Girls Foundation have all fed into the process.
WoMena has been our main donation partner in Uganda since 2013, and their work and expertise on training has been essential to the implementation of our partnerships with CARE International, Marie Stopes and Welthungerhilfe among others. WoMena is an NGO that is working on promoting the use of evidence-based, effective reproductive health technologies through research, advocacy and project implementation.
To create the final toolkit, we took all of the insights we had gained from our partner organisations and worked in close collaboration with WoMena to adapt their tried and tested training curriculum for the Ruby Cup education workshops. WoMena’s curriculum was developed using various menstrual health resources (published by WaterAid, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and The Danish Family Planning Associations and was originally developed in collaboration with Reproductive Health Uganda and Menstrual Care Uganda).
What’s in the New Ruby Cup Trainers Toolkit?
The trainer’s toolkit includes a guide to running the sessions, along with accompanying tools, such as flipcharts and a handbook for program participants. It’s designed as a guide to facilitators to deliver a workshop for girls and women about their menstrual and reproductive health and how to manage their periods using a menstrual cup. It’s also a guide to how to facilitate a workshop session in a way that is inviting and engaging, encouraging participants to become actors in the process, rather than just listeners.
Our locally based partner in Uganda, Womena, teaching a reproductive health workshop with the support of the flip charts provided in the toolkit
“In every section of the handbook there is a discussion question to ask the students,” says Judith, a trainer from Femme International who has been using the new toolkit. “That’s great because it doesn’t make the trainer talk from the beginning of the session straight to the end.”
The toolkit has been developed for the East African context, with research, evidence and consultations taken from this region. Central to the way we work with our partners is the belief that our implementing partners know their context best, so we invite them to adapt the content to however they feel best suits their participants and environment. We encourage organizations from across different regions to use this toolkit and we are currently looking into having it translated to French (for our partners working in West Africa) and finalising the translation to Chichewa (for those in Malawi). We’re also looking at adapting the toolkit for our Nepalese partners.
“The highly visual and activity-based training manual is very helpful and enables local women, even those with limited literacy skills, to be trained up as competent facilitators to lead workshops in their own communities and languages, with background support from technical experts,” said Kimika Oddie from ACROSS in South Sudan. “We especially appreciate the beautiful designs and pictures of African girls and women; this makes the training material relevant and validating for African participants. The section on taboos is also very useful for the cultural context we are operating in.”
“My particular favourite section is Understanding My Body,” says Ruby Cup’s Social Impact Director Amaia Arranz. “It has clear, informative instructions that emphasize how we don’t all look the same. The “understanding the hymen” section is also a great myth-breaker. We’ve received lots of positive feedback from both trainers and participants, saying that this information needs to be made more widely available, so we’re really excited to include it here.”
Do I Have to be a Ruby Cup Trainer to Use the Toolkit?
No. We’re happy to make the toolkit available to everyone. It’s very comprehensive so it can be used in pretty much any menstrual health-focused workshop or training session, though it will be most useful for those looking for a guide on the “how to’s” of menstrual cups. There’s also a comprehensive handbook for participants so individuals looking for more information on menstrual cups and the benefits of using them will also find it useful.
We’re not limiting access to those donating Ruby Cups. The toolkit can be downloaded and used by anyone. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like a copy.