AKA Mombasa alumnus launches first-ever International Period Month | Aga Khan Academies

AKA Mombasa alumnus launches first-ever International Period Month

28 May 2020

Affordable and Accessible Sanitation for Women (AASW) - a youth-led initiative founded by alumnus Ziyaan Virji while at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa for his personal project - has teamed up with several partner organisations to celebrate the launch of the first-ever International Period Month during the month of May.

The celebrations, which are a further highlight of Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrated on 28 May since 2014, have been marked by holding virtual events every night during this month through live screenings on Zoom and social media platforms like Instagram. Additionally, social media users have been encouraged to use the #PassThePad to share stories on the topic of menstruation, pink out their profiles and submit artwork to the on-going month-long challenge. 

For International Period Month, AASW is working to give 2,500 girls access to sanitary packages in Kenya and Tanzania in partnership with Diamond Trust Bank Kenya (DTB Kenya), Heels4pads, and Wezesha Binti Foundation. To supplement this, AASW and Operation Period,  a youth-led menstrual health non-profit, have set up a COVID-19 emergency fund where supporters can donate to help in the distribution of 28,000 menstrual packages to frontline healthcare workers, low-income earning individuals and the homeless in marginalised communities by the end of the month across additional countries, including Bangladesh, India, Malawi, and the USA.

“Periods don’t stop for a pandemic, and neither does our work,” Manju Bangalore, Founder and Executive Director of Operation Period, said. “We want to use International Period Month as a way to show the world how we are addressing the inequities in our systems that have allowed for period poverty to exist.”

The aim of this launch is to work towards enhancing access to proper menstrual care and fighting the stigma that accompanies the topic of menstruation. AASW and its partner organisations have received overwhelming support from volunteers, donors, and well-wishers for this cause. The organisation hopes to expand its work through advocacy, liaising with governments, and creating global strategic partnerships with the ultimate goal of ensuring free and proper access to menstrual health for all women.

“I truly believe that periods and menstrual health is not a female topic or a male topic but rather a human topic,” Ziyaan said. “We need to normalise the normal. No matter what age, race, gender, or background we come from, this should be a fight for the whole of humanity because none of us would’ve been alive if it wasn’t for the reproductive cycle.”

To learn more about the events AASW, Operation Period and other partner organisations are hosting this month, please visit operationperiod.org/ipm.