Empowering women in the Solomon Islands
A small business supported by WaterAid, MJ Enterprises, is now producing “Kaleko SteiFree”, reusable pads designed for women and girls in the Solomon Islands to manage their menstruation.
Every month in the Solomon Islands, 160,000 women and girls menstruate. In many countries menstruating doesn’t influence women’s ability to participate in daily life. However, in the Solomon Islands research conducted in late 2016 shows that the majority of women face a number of challenges in being able to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity. The research was collaboratively conducted by Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) and WaterAid. The research showed that the challenges faced by women and girls during menstruation interact and have the potential to negatively impact women’s physical and emotional health, participation at school, work and contribution in the community.
During 2017, WaterAid supported the establishment of MJ Enterprises, a small business to provide a combination of products and services to address key challenges that women and girls experience in the Solomon Islands. The drive behind the business is Mary Elizabeth Ramosaea (MJ) with the “vision that all women and girls across the Solomons reach their full potential”. The woman-led business enterprise is improving economic opportunities, directly employing three women and supporting three private women-led businesses based in Honiara.
The small enterprise is producing “Kaleko SteiFree”, which are reusable pads designed for women and girls to manage their menstruation. “Kaleko SteiFree” is an affordable, quality, locally made menstrual hygiene product. The product can be reused for two to three years’, costing as little as $1 AUD per month. For many Solomon Island women there is limited access to appropriate and affordable menstrual hygiene products. For many women and girls, particularly in in rural and isolated areas, there is no choice but to use whatever is available to manage their menstruation. This is often unhygienic materials or cloth or local natural materials such as leaves or coconut husks.
“Kaleko SteiFree” is available for sale as individual items, or as a complete kit, which includes everything that is required to effectively manage menstruation. The “Kaleko SteiFree” kit includes two shields, which holds the liners in place with a breathable waterproof layer to prevent leakage, and there are six liners to absorb the menstrual flow. The kit also contains additional bags, soap and information on how to care for the products and maintain good hygienic practices during menstruation.
MJ Enterprises also provides high quality information services to complement the “Kaleko SteiFree” product and ensure that women and girls are empowered to make informed decisions about how they manage their menstruation. The information services are based on WaterAid’s global expertise in menstrual hygiene management and the research conducted in the Solomon Islands. These services have already reached more than 450 women and girls.
To coincide with Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May 2017, over 40 guests joined MJ Enterprises to officially launch “Kaleko SteiFree” at Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara in the Solomon Islands. The Honorable John Moffat Fugui, Minister for Education and Human Resources Development, provided the key-note address showing the high-level government support for the small business enterprise. The event was also attended by Australian High Commissioner, Roderick Brazier, Amita Brazier and Deputy High Commissioner, Michael Hassett.
MJ Enterprises has already produced over 300 “Kaleko SteiFree” kits and has the capability to cater to wholesale orders of over 100 kits at a time. Organisations making wholesale orders purchase both the product and services to provide the most effective development outcomes.
Individuals and organisations can find out more information on the MJ Enterprises products and services by contacting MJ and Mary directly on: [email protected]