Educate -- Empower -- Evaluate
Irise International is a charity formed in 2011 by a group of students and graduates at the University of Sheffield with a collective ambition to support the empowerment of women in East Africa. In interviews conducted in 2010 Kenyan schoolgirls cited lack of sanitary protection as a common problem with girls reporting that they missed school because of their periods and had many worries and concerns surrounding menstruation. This issue became the focus of Irise's work.
Irise aims to educate on this issue by collaborating with organisations affiliated to East Africa. We provide funding and resources to partner projects in order to support development of either educational or business based menstruation management programs. Additionally we are running educational sessions in local secondary schools to highlight the issue in the UK. One of Irise's central goals is to generate and collate research on the nature of the problem and possible solutions to this neglected issue.
With the help from researchers based at ScHARR, Irise undertook a pilot clinical trial in Kenya where it was found that teaching on making a reusable sanitary towel reduced school absences by 1.5 days in a month. A full report of our pilot study in Kenya is available:
Irise are following on this work with surveys in Madagascar and Malawi.
Through its work Irise strives towards a world where no woman or girl is held back by her period.