Meet Bamisaye Folasade, a social entrepreneur who is passionate about menstrual hygiene for girls and women of reproductive age. She is an example that you can effectively do business while solving social problems. Bamisaye has over 8 years experience improving psycho-social wellbeing of girls and women at the grassroots.
She is the founder of Young Women Arise an organisation with the goal to give power to girls and women. It’s meant for them to be able to make right and informed decision about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR). Through this project, Bamisaye has trained over 1600 girls and young women at the grassroots.
She is also the curator of Ablaze Ladies Camp which provides participants with the needed skills for them to make informed decision about their SRHR. Bamisaye is also the brain behind MyPeriod Kit, an innovative product that aims to increase access to menstrual hygiene and help keep girls in school during their periods.
How did you get involved in women health advocacy?
I am driven by my passion for community and human development, as well as a strong desire to make a positive change. Right from childhood, I have always wanted to be a philanthropist so I can help the vulnerable people in the area of education, health, and poverty. But I reasoned that I could only do so when I get wealthy.
As I grew older I began to gather information on how I can start impacting my community without being rich. I then began to understand what volunteerism is all about. In 2009 I became a full-time volunteer, working on issues of women and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. My first major experience was on PACT/USAID supported REACH project in Ekiti State.
You recently launched a new product, MyPeriod Kit, tell us about it?
Yes… that is MyPeriod Kit and I am so excited about it.
MyPeriod Kit is the first product with a compilation of sanitary materials for young girls and women of reproductive age in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region. The product aims to promote menstrual hygiene and healthy transition into womanhood for girls and women of reproductive age especially those residing in under-served communities.
The justification for having MyPeriod Kit is that girls and women residing in under-served areas around Nigeria are faced with huge challenge of coping with their menstrual period hygienically. Women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by factors, including limited access to affordable hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options. This has led many girls and women to manage their periods ineffectively, uncomfortably and unhygienically.
Young girls and women in rural areas tend to opt for natural materials such as mud, leaves, dung or animal skins to manage the menstrual flow due to inadequate knowledge about puberty education, access to affordable sanitary materials as well as poor menstrual hygiene management. This is in addition to insufficient access to safe and private toilets and lack of clean water and soap for personal hygiene. As a result, menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed.
How have you been able to manage entrepreneurship and advocacy efficiently?
My sister, I will say it has not been an easy task. This is especially when coupled with the fact that I am also an employee.
But you know what happens when determination meets passion and grace, then you can consider challenges as a piece of cake. My passion for girls and women’s general well-being keeps me going.When determination meets passion and grace, challenges are a piece of cake Click To Tweet
Can you share a story on your toughest day/period?
Hmmm… the life of a development worker coupled with being an entrepreneur cannot always be a bed of roses. Each day comes with its own unique toughness in different forms. So it is really difficult for me to isolate a day out as my toughest day.
However, if we say period then I can say the toughest period in my life was between 2014/2015. I was running my Masters degree full-time, working full-time and also setting up a new NGO in a new environment in that period. I only had a few staff to work with, so the work was so enormous. And I still had to study hard to have good grades. That period was so challenging but grace and passion were at work in my life.
What do you recommend to other women based on your experiences?
It is never too late to start being productive and resourceful. Whatever positive things you dream of doing, believe me, you can achieve it.
Seize the moment now that international organizations are advocating for huge investment to be made in girls and women. Try to make something meaningful out of life, invest in yourself and in others.
What are the misconceptions/myth on women’s health you’d like to debunk?
That menstruating is a taboo or a dirty process. This myth has for long put girls and women in a position of being discriminated against to the extent that in some society menstruating girls and women are barred from participating in religious exercises.
Also, girls in school are forced to stay at home while their male counterparts stay in school to learn. Menstruation is a biological process that girls must undergo. It is the onset of womanhood and thus must be appreciated and treated with dignity and the highest level of hygiene. Menstruation in itself is not dirty, but the process must be undergone hygienically.
What are your plans for your product/business?
MyPeriod Kit is a work in progress. In the coming years, we plan to reach more girls and women of reproductive age with menstrual hygiene supplies that are hygienically packed to meet their specific needs at an affordable rate.
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