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MUST collaboration visit 1-2 October 2015

On the 1st  and 2nd of October, members of the WoMena team (Marianne, Simona and Laura, accompanied by Brian our amazing WoMena contact person in Mbarara) visited our strategic academic partner, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Institute of Interdisciplinary Training and Research (MUST-IITR),  for a collaborative meeting. The aim of the meeting was to follow up on previous discussions on the collaborative relationship between the two parties and to begin to put together concrete plans for taking forward our joint work.

Prior to the collaboration meeting on Friday, WoMena was offered the opportunity to hold an information session on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and the menstrual cup (MC) with university students from the department of Gender and Women’s studies. The info session was attended by over 50 attentive and engaged students. After a brief introduction into the work of WoMena, Marianne gave a practical demonstration of the MC. The info session also featured a quiz that students actively participated in, presenting their ideas on the impact of good menstrual hygiene management on the community, identifying MHM products and testing their new found knowledge of MCs.  We also held a fruitful FAQ session where students asked question on a number of topics ranging from virginity to availability of cups. We received very encouraging feedback from the info session participants and now have exciting plans to expand our information sessions in terms of topics, but also to other universities!

On Friday morning we held a training session on our Menstrual Cups Interventions follow up study and received plenty of constructive feedback from participants. With the help of Dr Viola Nykato, Director of MUST-IITR and Brain, we also identified two new Research Officers from MUST to join our research team.

The collaboration meeting later in the day,  was chaired by Dr Nyakato, who started off the meeting with inspirational words promoting holistic interaction between communities and academics, mainstreaming gender across the institutions work and continuing to work together to enhance sexual reproductive health and rights and access to menstrual hygiene management in Uganda. WoMena presented the current collaborative study, Menstrual Cup interventions follow up project prior to us discussing other joint projects, responsibilities and timescales.  We were joined by a number of motivated MUST-IITR staff members and PhD students, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the department. Female group members were provided with MCs to try themselves.  The meeting resulted a number of MUST-IITR members taking on work for a variety of projects.  The meeting again reinforced our joint commitment to enhancing MHM in Uganda and laid a fantastic foundation for our future collaborative work.

WoMena extends its sincerest thanks to Dr Nyakato, IITR and all colleagues present at the collaborative meeting, for the warm welcome and dedication to our collaboration as well also the MUST students who joined us so enthusiastically for our info session!

Danish