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Kim Windvogel: I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty

Kim Windvogel is an online writer who writes under the name Blazing Non-Binary. Being Non-Binary means that you are fluid in your gender. Kim believes that they can be masculine, feminine and all the other energies present on the gender spectrum. Their writing focuses on breaking the taboos of sex, of being fat, of loving yourself, of questioning identity and the experience called life. As a Non-Binary, they do a lot of panel discussion on representation and access. Kim who graduated with a degree in classical singing from the University of Cape Town is also the co-founder of a non- profit company called FemmeProjects NPC. In this article, the controversially inspirational, versatile creative, Kim Windvogel shares their story to becoming a gender activist and advocate for body positivism, among other things. Tell us about yourself I grew up in a home that supported me in my journey to form my own opinions about life and I think that is why I am as opinionated as I am. I went to predominantly white schools and this shaped a lot of my understanding when it comes to my experience of race relations in a post-apartheid country such as South Africa.   What you do I co-founded a Non-Profit Company called FemmeProjects NPC. We go into schools and facilitate feminist sexual and menstrual health workshops to teenagers going through puberty. We help them understand what is going on with their bodies and allow them to ask the burning questions they are afraid to ask their parents for fear of judgment. Currently, I am working in collaboration with Women’s Net South Africa, Coloured Mentality and Soul City to create an online campaign around the 16 Days of activism. We are creating a #16waysfor16days campaign, calling on online users to showcase what they are doing to change the way they and the world treat gender marginalized people, calling on people to discuss this in their online and offline circles. As there is a big digital divide we have provided workshops to explain how social media works with various organizations in the weeks leading up to 16 days of activism.  [bctt tweet=”I have a lot of feelings about the world and I knew that I needed to share that with people” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] What inspired you to become a polygonal creative and what challenges have you faced in the creative industry?  I had a lot to say and a lot of feelings about the world which needs to be shared with people. Specifically people in my country and my continent. I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty. Another passion of mine is writing about masturbation, self-love and being colored. Creating workshops for young women is my passion, the type of workshops I hoped to have had access to as a kid. If you are creative,  you should have a responsibility to create and then to share that with the world so that others can go through the same stream of consciousness you went through. [bctt tweet=”I have been fat-shamed, body-shamed, and shamed for having bodily hair – @Blazingnonbinry” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] I have faced challenges like being fat-shamed, body-shamed, shamed for having bodily hair. Other and more dominant challenges include being silenced in spaces I thought were safe enough to talk about the issues that gender non-binary people experience daily. Representation for genderfluid people is lacking and therefore, I decided to take my power and to write my own story. That is the power of social media. We should all seize that power. Tell us more about FEMME and all about the work the organization is involved in Femme is a rough acronym that stands for Freedom of Education Motivates Empowerment. We create workshops for young people about puberty, mentorship, and their potential career paths. We hand out menstrual cup which is a sustainable sanitary product that is made out of medical grade silicone and lasts for 5 years. This means that learners do not have to miss school due to lack of resources. We train other facilitators to go out into their own communities and to do the same empowerment we do with them. Femme is my baby and I co-direct it with two wonderful partners, Loren Loubster and Kelly Koopman of coloured mentality What do you enjoy most about the path that you have chosen? I get to live the type of life I always wanted to lead, speak my mind and manage my own time (which is a very difficult thing if you are not disciplined!). I get to meet the most amazing people who are on the same journey to try and change the world in their own way.    What are you most proud of in all that you’ve achieved so far? I am proud of my self-published anthology: Resist: The Paradox of Love and Other Societal Disorders. I wrote and curated it, but had someone who assisted with the layout and an amazing illustrator who did the cover illustration. The work that is included in this collection was written over a period of three years. Some of the pieces are old and some I wrote two days before going to print. I organized my own launch and was surrounded by people who enjoy poetry and who listened intently as I shared my story. I am proud that an introvert like me (someone who writes predominantly online) brought people together and shared their work in person. It took so much out of me and I didn’t know that I had the courage, but just when you think you cannot do something out of fear, it is that same fear that drives you towards success. I am also proud that in 3 years of running Femme we have facilitated 4000 learners, registered our own Non-Profit, opened a business bank account, and that we are all people of color blazing the trail for those who come after us.   What future plans do you have for your career as a creative and for the work you do

Bamisaye Folasade: I want to promote menstrual hygiene for girls and women

[bctt tweet=”I realised that I can impact my community without being rich – Bamisaye Folasade” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] 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. [bctt tweet=”When determination meets passion and grace, challenges are a piece of cake” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] 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. If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and