Embassy of Switzerland’s #PeriodTowardsEmpowerment launch event

The project seeks to create lasting impact by empowering women and girls

BY

The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines, SPARK! Philippines, and the local government of Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur successfully launched the #PeriodTowardsEmpowerment project. The inaugural session took place at the Bukasyon Center, followed by a second session at Barangay Calinggayan. The project engaged a diverse group of over one hundred participants aged 10 and above, including teenage mothers, student leaders, and out-of-school youth. This variety of participants contributed a wide range of perspectives and experiences, enriching the discussions and outcomes of the sessions.

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DHOM Celine Furst, Diplomatic Officer Lisa Brucker, Hon. Mayor Sweet Cerilles, and SPARK! Executive Director Malca Teves

During the sessions, reusable sanitary napkins made by women deprived of liberty in the Quezon City Female Jail Dormitory were distributed to all participants. The initiative aims to break the persistent taboos surrounding menstruation, raise awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, and introduce locally manufactured reusable sanitary napkins, significantly reducing environmental waste.

The #PeriodTowardsEmpowerment project aims to implement a comprehensive knowledge-building program that fosters discussions about menstrual management, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Participants will explore how socio-cultural norms and long-held beliefs contribute to gender insensitivity and perpetuate misconceptions about menstruation, which can trigger various forms of gender-based violence.

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At the Barangay Calingayan with 70 young women and girls aged 10 to 19

One of the project's objectives is to significantly reduce the waste generated by disposable sanitary napkins. These napkins, typically made from non-renewable resources, involve cutting down trees, consuming large amounts of water, and generating greenhouse gas emissions during production. After a single use, they contribute to the growing problem of landfill waste. In contrast, reusable napkins made from renewable materials require fewer resources and can be reused multiple times, leading to a substantial reduction in overall waste production.

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Margot Catmunan, project officer at SPARK! Philippines; Lisa Brucker, diplomatic officer at Embassy of Switzerland; Celine Furst, deputy head of mission at Embassy of Switzerland; Maica Teves, executive director at SPARK! Philippines; and Hon. Sweet Cerilles, mayor of Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur together with participants from Bukasyon Center

Furthermore, the project will empower women in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, by training them to manufacture reusable sanitary napkins locally. These eco-friendly alternatives not only provide a cost-effective option compared to disposables but also help combat the stigma surrounding menstruation. Distributing these reusable napkins to young schoolgirls in Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur, will complement the broader period empowerment and awareness program. Additionally, the initiative will incorporate education on menstrual health and introduce "Sophia, The Chatbot," utilizing technology to facilitate accessible reporting avenues for gender-based violence.

The project seeks to create a lasting impact by promoting gender equality, fostering safer and healthier communities, and empowering women and girls with the knowledge and resources they need to thrive.