In 2018, Population Services International (PSI) Europe were awarded a Share-Net International Small Grant titled “#Menstrual Health Matters”. Menstruation is an incredibly important aspect of sexual and reproductive health in the lives of those who menstruate. Yet, it is still an incredibly tabooed subject in many countries around the world and an area of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in which both consistent research and funding are lacking. PSI-Europe has been a trailblazer in recent years when it comes to integrating menstrual health into SRHR. PSI-Europe is based in the Netherlands, is a member of the PSI network and works with more than 50 countries throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia with the aim to make it easier for all people to lead healthier lives and plan the families they want.
For this blog, Managing Director of PSI-Europe and menstrual health advocate, Odette Hekster, took the time to speak with Share-Net Netherlands to reflect upon the added value and results of being a small grant recipient.
The aim of the #Menstrual Health Matters small grant was to translate and share interesting findings and lessons learned which PSI-Europe were gathering through a menstrual health project based in Nepal. Odette explained that the interest in applying for the Share-Net International small grant really stemmed from the need to share the results and findings from their project in Nepal beyond the PSI network so that they could be used by other organisations in their menstrual health projects and programming. In her reflections, Odette shared that the small grant was a great opportunity to add upon and extend the reach of the work being done by PSI-Europe at the time.
The small grant provided by Share-Net International resulted in a number of activities in which the findings from PSI-Europe’s menstrual health programme were translated and disseminated. These activities included:
These knowledge products were distributed amongst relevant stakeholders and shared amongst a network of partners, alliances and practitioners such as Menstrual Health Hub, Nepal Menstrual Health Alliance and of course, the Share-Net network.
An incredibly interesting outcome of these products was that they contributed to the development of PSI-Europe’s Technical Brief for Integration of Menstrual Health in SRHR. This technical brief has been championed by the SRHR community and has been used by organisations such as UNFPA and UNICEF. When talking about the technical brief, Odette explained that “we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to collect all the resources to start writing the brief the following year … the small grants definitely contributed to it”.
When we asked Odette if she would consider the outcomes of the small grant successful, she replied yes, to which we couldn’t agree more. Considering that the integration of menstrual health management into SRHR is an area which requires much more attention from SRHR organisations, policy makers and researchers, the development of the previously mentioned briefs, leaflets and reports by PSI-Europe are instrumental in the fight for a holistic approach to menstrual health.
Rounding up on our conversation, we asked Odette whether she would recommend other Share-Net members to apply for a small grant, to which Odette applied: “Yes, if you can use it in a smart way it is a great way to … either add on your work or expand your work so yes, definitely”. Odette continued to explain that she found the application form to be very straightforward and user friendly and that the application process is well designed in that the effort needed to apply for a small grant is really proportionate to the amount of money that you receive.
Are you interested to read more about the Share-Net International Small Grants Facility, click here.
With special thanks to Odette Hekster for her time and valuable insights.