Following last year’s first menstrual education workshop in partnership with Honduras Child Alliance and Saalt, this month we carried out the second workshop in El Porvenir (Honduras) - this time, fully in-person! On September 9, we welcomed 28 participants to the event co-facilitated by HCA’s Education Coordinator Dania and our founder Laura at El Porvenir’s Municipality building. This second trial of the initiative built on learnings from the first, and is paving the way for more ongoing menstrual health promotion in the future! Here’s what we’ve learned so far, what we’ve improved and where we’re headed next!
What we learned from the first Reglas y Copas event in November 2021
Following the event on November 19, 2021, we reached out to participants to hear their feedback on the event as a whole, their learnings regarding menstruation and menstrual health, and their use of the menstrual cup. We had an 73% response rate, and here’s what respondents shared:
The amount of information shared is good, but most of them were still left with questions (1 in 3 have questions about the cup, nearly 2 in 3 have questions about their menstrual cycle)
90% felt they would benefit from another workshop
Nearly 75% of them would have liked a WhatsApp number to contact with questions/concerns as they began using their menstrual cup
18% of participants hadn’t used used the cup at all, 36% had tried it a few times, and 45% used it regularly or all the time
55% were satisfied or very satisfied with the cup, and 45% were neutral
90% would feel comfortable sharing their experiences in future workshops
We also took some learnings from running the trial event and program itself:
Having most of the session content be offered virtually made it harder for participants to stay focused, and the local (in-person) facilitators were key in engaging participants in the hands-on activities
Offering refreshments halfway through the event was an excellent way to help participants keep energy levels high and take a break
Having a follow-up survey was a good way of collecting information from most participants (some switched phone numbers and were unreachable after 5 months), but we were missing an initial survey to measure progress against
This feedback and learnings were what led HCA and TabuTabu to plan a second, larger trial of the program that would ultimately allow us to test the improvements before thinking of formalizing the project into HCA’s ongoing programming. So here’s what we did:
How we structured the second Reglas y Copas event this September
The logistics of the second event were similar to the first, with some minor adjustments: Firstly, we reached out to the local Municipality, specifically the Department of the Woman, who were delighted to host the event in their building. This reinforced the initiative through local support that extended beyond HCA’s positive reputation within the community.
Secondly, all facilitators were present at the event (i.e. in-person), removing all technological challenges and barriers as participants were engaging directly with Dania (HCA’s Education coordinator), and Laura (TabuTabu founder and sexuality educator), who jointly presented the menstruation education content, as well as the Saalt cup training. (Saalt staff were on stand-by remotely in case any questions arose that Dania and Laura were not able to answer.) Removing the virtual components of the event also allowed us to reduce the event time from nearly 3 hours with a break, to 2 hours with a break, making it easier for everyone to stay engaged throughout.
Furthermore, HCA’s team also provided on-site childcare, hereby making it easier for menstruators who are responsible for babies and small children to attend without having to make separate arrangements for this.
In terms of improving the data-collection and follow-up, we prepared a brief survey for participants to complete when “checking in’ with supporting staff. The responses from this survey provided insights into initial attitudes and confidence about participants’ knowledge regarding menstruation, as well as gathering contact details. Whilst the implementation of this pre-survey was strategically helpful, we underestimated the influx of arrivals, and did not have enough computers/helpers in place. This meant that some participants ended up skipping this part of the event (but we were able to gather at least their phone numbers throughout the event to be used for the follow-up survey).
And lastly, we heard the support for the WhatsApp “helpline” for participants, and introduced this in the second event. This number is monitored by the HCA senior local staff, who have received training on FAQs and will be able to escalate any more challenging questions to TabuTabu’s Laura (who in turn will be able to escalate any questions to Saalt if needed).
The benefits of smaller testing
Program development and implementation is full of surprises at the best of times. To anticipate as many of the large ones as possible, it is key to co-create with the community as much as possible. In the case of Reglas y Copas, this has meant involving local HCA staff to partake in the first trial, and be involved in improving the program for the second trial.
Community engagement and leadership is also key in troubleshooting challenges, like when there was a power outage in El Porvenir minutes before the first Reglas y Copas event in 2021! (The workshop was moved to the local fire department’s meeting room because they have a backup generator!)
But the benefits of starting with small prototypes of a program and growing them effectively is the trial and error that is possible — this allows for an iterative process of learning and improving. We will be remembering learnings from the first Reglas y Copas and taking the newer learnings from the second iteration of the program as we look towards the next event! Stay tuned for more!