Loren Loubser of Femme Projects is making moves and hoping to change the taboos and shame around female sexual health and education.
Femme Projects is a non-profit company that was established in 2014 by Loren Loubser, Kelly Eve Koopman and Kim Windvogel. It aims to liberate young women by teaching them that the changes that their bodies go through during puberty are nothing to be embarrassed about.
“We started out with three schools, now we’re working with about 19, 4000 learners in total, all rural based schools, schools in the townships and even farm schools in the Western Cape.” Loren explained.
They stress that it is very important for young girls to learn about how their bodies are changing, in a safe and comfortable environment, without fear of being judged or feeling dirty.
“Femme projects focusses on gender education, sexual education, human rights and reproductive health. We also educate a lot about menstruation as we give out dignity packs that contain a toothbrush, a roll-on, soap, hand-sanitizer and a menstrual cup. Many young girls do not know how to use menstrual cups, so we do a lot of education around that too, as well as how the body, identity and choices of young women change as their bodies grow. We educate from a feministic perspective.”
A menstrual cup is a small, flexible, silicone cup worn inside the vagina in order to catch menstrual fluids. After sterilised, these cups can be reused, making them an affordable option for young women who may not be able to buy sanitary towels every month.
Femme projects understands that whilst growing up, it’s very hard for young girls to talk to their parents about feminine issues, even being afraid to use the word vagina’, and this is what Femme Projects is trying to combat.
“Growing up as girls, people are too afraid to even use the word ‘vagina’, they’d rather use nonsensical slang, such as ‘koekie’ or ‘noenie’, and painting the actual biological term as something dirty or wrong.”
“The programme runs over 6-9 months each year, although we sometimes try to run two projects a year. We see each school three times as follow-ups, focussing on study guidance and helping with career choices too.”
Being a non-profit company, funding for the project can be a real struggle.
“We apply for funding and also sell our vagina anatomical t-shirts at R250 each in order to raise funds for the costs incurred for our projects.”
Although Femme Projects is based in Lakeside, near to the train station, organisation members are always roaming around, especially in the Cape Town Central Business District (CBD) and they encourage people to contact them.
Their website is www.femmeprojects.org.za/ or they can be found on Facebook at Femme Projects or Twitter @femmeprojects. Get in contact with them and find out how you can get involved and make a difference!