After prototyping and fine-tuning our menstrual education workshops with Honduras Child Alliance and Saalt in November 2021 and September 2022, this year we scaled our collaboration the Reglas y Copas (periods and Cups) instructional events for menstruators in El Porvenir (Atlantida, Honduras): Throughout May, in celebration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, we held 3 workshops for a total of 52 menstruators across the community, partnering with the local high school and the Departamento de la Mujer (Women’s Department) of El Porvenir’s Municipalidad (Municipality). Here’s an overview of what we did, what we learned, and what we’re working on!
Reglas y Copas Workshop Objectives
TabuTabu and Honduras Child Alliance seek to dismantle the taboos around periods and contribute to a community-wide normalization of information about and access to safe period products for all menstruators. We developed the Reglas y Copas instructional events with the aim of creating a safe space to access accurate, comprehensive, and shame-free information about menstruation and menstrual health. Beyond understanding the menstrual cycle and familiarizing themselves with a range of disposable and reusable products, participants receive their own menstrual cup (donation of Saalt), and become familiar with how to use and care for it.
Who the Reglas y Copas 2023 Workshop Participants were
We held three events on and around May 28, which is World Menstrual Hygiene day:
At the local high school, the Instituto Oficial El Porvenir, on May 24, 2023: Open to all interested menstruators who attend afternoon or evening high school classes.
At El Porvenir’s Salon Municipal (Municipal Hall), on May 28, 2023: Open to menstruators of the wider El Porvenir community who have access to (transportation to) the local town hall.
In the outskirts of El Porvenir, on May 31, 2023: Organized by the municipality’s Departamento de la Mujer with one of their existing women’s support groups in the outskirts of El Porvenir.
We conducted brief surveys before and after the event (see more below) to capture data regarding the participants’ demographics, contexts and levels of understanding regarding menstrual cycles and health. In summary, workshop participants:
Were largely under 25 years of age (over 76%)
Always or almost always had access to a bathroom that provides privacy, comfort and running water (90%, 85% and 79% respectively)
Had a range of familiarity with different period products before the workshop. Notably:
75% had used disposable pads
3 participants had previously used tampons, and 1 participant had previously used the menstrual cup
41%, 60%, 47% and 39%, respectively, had not used or heard of reusable pads, period underwear, the menstrual cup or tampons before hearing about/attending the workshop.
One specific question in the pre-workshop survey was of particular interest to TabuTabu and Honduras Child Alliance ahead of starting the workshop: the question asked about the frequency of participant’s conversations about menstruation with their friends, partners and parents/family members. Participants’ answers allowed co-facilitators to gauge the level of taboo around periods, and know how to appropriately engage the group most adequately – the large majority of participants never or only sometimes talked about their periods:
Given this information, co-facilitators Laura (TabuTabu) and Dania (Honduras Child Alliance) made sure to acknowledge and normalize feelings of discomfort, awkwardness, shyness or even embarrassment in the session, addressing the taboos society upholds around menstruation, vulvas, virginity and reproductive health, and discussing why spaces and events like the one they were all part-taking in can be so empowering and liberating.
Reglas y Copas 2023 Outcomes
With one of the main objectives of the workshop being to provide access to information free of shame and taboo, we asked participants to rate their understanding of the changes in their body during the menstrual cycle — before and after Reglas y Copas. More than measuring the actual learning, this question aimed to measure the change in participants’ confidence. We believe that a confident learner is more likely to seek spaces where they can ask more questions and obtain answers, and a confident menstruator is more likely to exercise body autonomy in managing their period. The below before/after graphs show the power of providing women with knowledge of understanding their bodies during menstruation:
And as a way of collecting feedback from the workshops in view of improving the format for future events, we asked participants to rate the duration and quantity of information provided, as well as how much of the information they believe they understood well. Feedback collected shows that a large majority of participants felt the duration of the workshop and the quantity of information provided was just right, and most participants felt they understood the majority, if not all of the content:
Lastly, we asked them if they have any outstanding questions regarding menstruation, menstrual products, and their own menstrual cycles. Participant responses show that, overall, most of their questions were answered, with only some questions about menstruation (21%), menstrual products (17%), and their own cycles (15%) left unanswered (... and un-asked?):
Overall, the surveys indicate that the participants largely benefitted from the Reglas y Copas events, but may not have felt they could ask (all) of their questions during the workshop. These insights reflect and confirm back received from previous Reglas y Copas events, which was collected partly through informal verbal feedback, and partly through prior versions of the surveys used to collect this information this year.
Want to know more about how we have evolved our process of collecting such data, and what service we have put in place for participants to get their pending questions answered? Keep reading!
The ongoing Learning Journey of Evaluation
From the first iteration of Reglas y Copas, TabuTabu, Honduras Child Alliance, and Saalt have been intent on understanding workshop participants’ views on the event, their learning, and their experiences with the menstrual cup after the event. In the first trial in 2021, we collected their phone numbers in the registration form, and reached out to them 3 months later with a survey link for them to respond to questions about the workshop format, the content, and their use of the Saalt cup. The feedback we collected about the workshop itself was valuable although it did not allow us to measure understanding and/or attitudes around menstruation before the event itself. Some participants highlighted that they had not yet mustered the courage to insert the cup, or to try inserting the cup during a subsequent period:
For the second trial, we added a pre-survey that gave us a good understanding of what the participants’ level of understanding and attitudes were. The survey was done as they walked into the event, on computers and phones provided by the Honduras Child Alliance team. On this occasion, the follow-up survey remained the same, and was sent out 5 months later, giving participants more time (therefore 2-3 more cycles) to test the cup during their periods. Here, however, the retention of information period to provide feedback on the event was flagged to us as problematic.
Finally, for the 2023 Reglas y Copas events, we decided to split the follow-up survey into two: one to be done directly after the event, focused on feedback about the workshop itself, and the third and final survey 4 months after the event, focused on their experience with the menstrual cup:
To keep the philosophy of the event front-of-mind, provide an extra source of confidence for the participants, and maintain contact throughout the 4 months after the event, we invite participants into a WhatsApp group dedicated to their menstrual health. Want to know more? Keep reading!
Mi Regla, Mis Reglas WhatsApp: Keeping in touch with Reglas y Copas 2023 Participants
Beyond the workshop, Honduras Child Alliance and TabuTabu offers participants a WhatsApp helpline (hosted by Honduras Child Alliance in collaboration with TabuTabu) for any urgent questions or troubleshooting with Saalt cup users.
Honduras Child Alliance also hosts a WhatsApp group (run by Honduras Child Alliance with support from TabuTabu) titled Mi Regla, Mis Reglas (My Period, My Rules), where we share weekly snippets of information about menstruation and menstrual cups to Reglas y Copas participants who opted into the service. This group also serves as a reminder of the available helpline, which was requested by Reglas y Copas 2021 and 2022 participants.
The WhatsApp group will also serve as a means of reaching out to the 2023 participants with the 3-month follow-up survey, in which we will be collecting insights on Saalt cup use and care, and any experiences users are willing to share. Watch this space for updates!
Also posted on: https://www.omprakash.org/blog/reglas-y-copas-2023-