Roisa Kerry, Kenyan menstrual equity activist: “We need to make the young people custodians of SRHR”

Roisa Kerry, Kenyan menstrual equity activist: “We need to make the young people custodians of SRHR”

Roisa Kerry. Photo Louise Johansson

Roisa Kerry. Photo Louise Johansson

Recently we met Kenyan menstrual equity activist, Roisa Kerry in Stockholm. We thought her story was inspiring, and we decided to interview her to inspire more. You're welcome.

Hi Roisa! Tell us about yourself and your work!
My name is Roisa Kerry, I am a public health practitioner with a focus on water, sanitation and hygiene. I am advocating for sustainable options and innovation through sanitation marketing. Currently, I am the Director and Co-founder of ‘Live Healthy Initiatives’, which is a Kenyan based NGO focusing of reducing the incidences of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension.

How did you get involved in the menstrual equity movement?
I got involved in the menstrual movement because I really love addressing gender disparity issues and girls and women's dignity. I used to give general health talks in school on sexual & reproductive health, teenage pregnancy issues, female genital mutilation and drugs/substance abuse. Along the way, I discovered my strength is in menstrual hygiene management and promoting sustainability by advocating for reusable menstrual products, menstrual cups and SafepadTM.

Tell us about life as a period-activist in Kenya!
My life as a period activist has been really awesome because I love the feeling I get when I am able to make young girls smile, when I can give some hope and when the impact of my work on girls and young women motivates me to strive to do more.

Also it is very challenging because I am not able to meet my audience's need, this breaks my heart when I see how broken the girls are, when I can pass that menstrual hygiene information but not able to provide pads to them, it really makes me sad. I feel broken when those people who trust me cannot get the help they need. It hurts most when a male teacher calls me asking for pads for his pupils or students but I am unable to give them, it also pains me when teachers or partners request for a training or support and am not able to provide because its either I can't afford to travel to their areas or I am not able to donate pads, panties or the ‘dignity kits’ to them.

What is most needed in terms of SRHR in your setting?
In terms of Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights, we need age-appropriate information and safe spaces for the young people. We need to make the young people custodian of SRHR, they need to be part of decision making process and implementation, effective sexual education will lead to age appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically accurate information. It includes structured opportunities for young people to explore their attitudes and values and have skills that will help them make informed decisions about their sexuality.

What is your best memory from your work with menstrual equity?
My best memory in my menstrual hygiene work is having all stakeholders involved in breaking stigma, myths and taboos surrounding menstrual blood. I feel happy when Maasai men take lead to demystify menstrual inequality and call a spade a spade for the sake of advocating for girl child's dignity and keeping girls in school.

Thank you Roisa for sharing your story and work with us! We hope to see more from you in the future!

Ulf Lundquist - our volunteer photographer from Salesforce

Ulf Lundquist - our volunteer photographer from Salesforce

We don't have to buy what you are selling: Four pieces of advise before a company approaches a non-profit.

We don't have to buy what you are selling: Four pieces of advise before a company approaches a non-profit.