A year of empowering women to discover their unbreakable spirit and inner strength

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-H.E.R. Foundation’s inspiring first-year achievements-

The H.E.R Foundation initiated by Fems, driven by a mandate to help women overcome challenges they face in their lives through initiatives based on its core pillars: Help, Empower, and Rise, marked its first milestone year, recommitting to breaking down societal barriers.

The journey began with Fems, a leading feminine hygiene care brand by Hemas Consumer Brands, having recognized the call to redefine the narrative surrounding menstrual health in Sri Lanka and addressing critical issues through transformative change. 

Raising awareness about Menstrual Health and Hygiene among school students.

According to a study conducted by WaterAid and the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia on menstrual hygiene management in schools in South Asia, 66% of Sri Lankan girls are unaware of menstruation until menarche. Additionally, 60% of parents do not allow their daughters to go to school during their periods. For far too long, women and girls have faced challenges in receiving proper education, accessing essential menstrual hygiene products, and overcoming societal taboos surrounding this natural biological process. Evidence suggests that in Sri Lanka, lack of education, and generational habits, have contributed to perpetuate the stigma surrounding menstruation. The reality of menstrual health and hygiene poses a significant challenge, as an alarming 70% of women who menstruate do not choose the correct menstrual hygiene options such as sanitary napkins. 

H.E.R Foundation partners with Barista to provide easy access to menstrual hygiene by placing sanitary napkin dispenser units at the Coffee Chain. 

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Fems took a bold stance in 2021 with a two-pronged approach aimed at tackling period poverty and promoting menstrual health education, through the launch of the AYA initiative. 

The AYA initiative aimed to empower women and girls by introducing the AYA Sanitary Napkin, a high-quality yet affordable option designed to make hygienic menstrual care accessible to all. 

H.E.R Foundation collaborates with corporations to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene among employees.

Having understood that affordability was just one aspect of the challenge, it was crucial to educate young girls and women about their reproductive health & address the deep-rooted stigma and misinformation surrounding menstruation. In collaboration with medical professionals, the brand conducted awareness sessions across the island, educating women and girls about menstrual health, proper hygiene practices, and dispelling harmful myths that had been passed down for generations.

To truly create a lasting impact, Fems launched the H.E.R Foundation on May 28th, 2023, as a courageous move to challenge societal norms and spark conversations that had long been suppressed.

As it marks a year of achievements, the H.E.R Foundation is guided by the principle of ‘Help’ where the primary focus aims to address period poverty in Sri Lanka through education and awareness programs. Through ‘Empower’, the Foundation seeks to break the taboo around menstruation by promoting easy access to sanitary products in schools and workplaces and changing societal attitudes. Furthermore, it seeks to inspire future generations of women to ‘Rise’ by celebrating and highlighting successful women from various fields, inspiring future generations to reach their full potential. 

Today, the Fems H.E.R Foundation’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive society.

To improve accessibility, the Foundation introduced sanitary napkin dispenser units in schools, workplaces and coffee shops ensuring that women and girls had convenient access to these essential products, enabling them to continue their daily activities unhindered.

One of the Foundation’s recent initiatives under the ‘Empower’ pillar was the introduction of an automated WhatsApp chatbot called ‘Fio’ by Fems, available at the number 0765654661. All questions are answered by medical experts creating a safe and accessible platform for open discussions about menstruation and addressing related concerns. 

To continue its efforts in breaking the misinformation and taboos surrounding menstruation, the Foundation keep educating schoolgirls, women in the plantation and apparel sectors, as well as midwives. These midwives, in turn, can educate households, ensuring that accurate information reaches a broader audience. To date, the Foundation has educated over 250,000 girls and women about good menstrual health and hygiene. 

Deeply committed to promoting menstrual health and hygiene for all women, regardless of their circumstances, H.E.R Foundation identified a critical need in Sri Lankan prisons, that female inmates often lack access to essential sanitary products. In response, H.E.R Foundation launched a monthly distribution initiative to provide necessary items, reinforcing the belief in universal right to proper hygiene practices. The initiative also demonstrates H.E.R Foundation’s dedication to empowering women and advocating for their health and dignity.

Throughout the year, the H.E.R. Foundation has significantly progressed towards one of its fundamental objectives; to establish a platform uniting like-minded organizations and individuals. This collaborative approach has amplified their social impact and strengthened cause, demonstrating the power of collective action.

With its purpose-driven initiatives the H.E.R Foundation, supported by Fems has cemented its position as a champion of women’s empowerment and a force for positive change.

For more information about the H.E.R Foundation and to stay updated on their latest initiatives, visit their website at https://herfoundation.lk/ , and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61559814167390 and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/herfoundation.lk/

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