This week, My Period is Awesome is taking us to Rwanda where we meet Amina Umuhoza. She is a Rwandan, the founder of Dukataze and the founding CEO of a social enterprise company called SAYE that has a Dukataze project. Saye company ltd is a social enterprise company with a mission of empowering young RWANDAN YOUTH mentally, socially, and economically. We fight teenage pregnancies and menstrual stigma among youth and adolescents by equipping youth with sexual reproductive health and rights information and turning youth and adolescents into peer educators of their fellows.
Could you please tell us more about Dukataze?
We aim to provide youth with sexual reproductive health and rights information, fighting menstruation stigma and advocating for MHM equity. We turn youth and adolescents into peer educators of their fellows. This approach helps in bridging the age gap and stigma that normally comes with SRHR sessions when the content is being delivered with an old person. Our solution focusses on SDG 3, 4,5, and 8. For us to be able to achieve the above objective, we organize community outreach programs and we use our online developed platform, so far we have impacted 1027 beneficiaries
Could you please give us an example of the small income-generating projects young women have started thanks to your encouragement?
We have an e-commerce element on the Dukataze platform where we sell products that are produced by young women who have started their small income-generating projects of tailoring and crafting handmade. We aim to increase their sells, but it is also our revenue stream.
Dukataze is currently running a project with My Period is Awesome. Could you please explain to us what is the objective of this project?
In March 2020 we had spent an amazingly productive week with the MPIA team in Kigali, where we were piloting together the amazing projects that we will implement together, and of course, they are in the same line with sexual and reproductive health and rights, and menstrual health.
Dukataze is leading a few projects that will play a significant role in fighting period shame, could you please give us some examples?
We have developed different approaches such as the menstruation card games that will play a measure role in an increase of the open discussion around period which will result in period normality.
Besides, we have also developed an online platform entitled Dukataze,www.dukatazeonline.rw which provides an E- counseling place where adolescents and youth are allowed to ask various questions that they have regarding their sexual reproductive health. This allows them to avoid experiencing stigma and shame because the whole process is anonymous, and we have realized that it also increases openness during sessions. On the same platform, we offer reproductive health stories where we explore and dive distinct on SRHR for instance Menstruation, contraceptives, and many more triggering discussions.
Since not every beneficiary can have access to the internet, we offer community outreach programs in rural areas, schools, youth centers, and different districts. Our aim is of turning young women into peer educators for their fellows to reduce the influence age gap that comes when reproductive health sessions are being led by adults which tends to reduce the openness during discussions
Networking is a big part of your work, could you please explain us why?
For dukataze as a youth-led organization networking has been a backbone of our growth and it has been our measure source of partnerships, resources, knowledge, and growth. We are currently part of distinct networks locally, regional, and international such as My period is awesome, Tony elumelu, Segal, youth connekt Africa, change-maker exchange, DOT , YALI , Akili dada, and plenty more . All of these networks have made an incredible contribution to our existence.
What would you believe is the important item to consider when looking at menstrual health?
The important item to consider when looking at menstrual health is what is bothering menstruators in their periods, which is a lack of menstrual hygiene products such as reusable pads, disposable pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. To achieve this there should be VAT removal on these products and we are glad that in December 2019 Government of Rwanda has taken a good step in this and we are looking forward to the implementation and the results, and the other relevant point to consider here is to challenge cultural stereotypes around menstruation and this is where SRHR and MHM talks, sessions and campaigns are needed to shift this mindset.
How would you describe the current knowledge and the perception of menstruation in Rwanda? How does it differ from other places you have worked or interacted with?
The Rwandan cultural believes that topics related to sexual and reproductive health, menstruation in particular are not to be talked to in public, and it is a big shame to stain yourself in public. This has influenced the generations and generations to grow taking menstruation as a taboo topic and a lot of people are still influenced by this taboo. This is where organizations like DUKATAZE/ SAYE take a lead in fighting these harmful beliefs. But also we have a government will in this, where SRHR sessions are given in schools and there is girl’s room where pads are available in some schools which it is very encouraging, and we believe that with the joint efforts of government and other organization there is a hope to win this battle.
How has the Coronavirus impacted your projects in 2020?
Coronavirus has stopped all of our physical operations starting from closing our office and stopping the community outreach programs that were supposed to take place in May and July. This has made a direct negative impact on our 2020 action plan but luckily, we didn’t shut down our operation 100% because of dukataze online platform had continued to serve the users and that is where our content was distributed digitally.
What would you advise to any organization that would like to introduce MHM in their programs?
I would advise them to design a program that is youth-friendly where beneficiaries are at the center of every approach to be designed and implemented, it would also be relevant if they start by researching the needs and the requests that are available in the targeted community because it can contribute a lot in measuring impact and also in setting clear impact indicators.
Anything else you would like to add
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