You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘women’ tag.

In May of 2013, I began working with an incredible organization called Huru International.  In Swahili, Huru means Freedom.  Founded in Kenya in 2008, the mission of Huru International is to assist and empower adolescent girls by providing them with the resources and knowledge they need to complete their education and safeguard their health. In many parts of the world, poverty makes the cost of sanitary pads prohibitive for countless girls and young women, leading many to resort to unsafe substitutions, or to skip school for the duration of their periods. In response to this need, Huru has developed a high-quality reusable sanitary pad, produced locally and packaged into kits with other necessary products and HIV/AIDS prevention information.

As of October 2013, Huru has distributed free Huru Kits to more than 80,000 girls across Kenya. Having developed and piloted a proven model in Kenya, Huru is presently working to build upon its initial successes, and provide kits to underprivileged young women in urban slums and rural communities elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In October, I had the tremendous privilege of visiting Huru’s offices in Nairobi, between two of my trips to Malawi and Zabmia working with the United Nations Population Fund’s CONDOMIZE! Campaign.  I departed Kenya on International Day of the Girl Child and wrote the following post, which was published on the Huru International Blog that same day:


In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11th International Day of the Girl Child, recognizing girls’ rights and the unique challenges that girls face around the world.  Today, this year, the focus is on Innovating for Girls’ Education; and as many of you know, this is a subject at the heart of all we do at Huru International.

All week long, the Huru community in Kenya has been buzzing with conversation leading up to International Day of the Girl Child.  Whether assembling Huru Kits in Mukuru Kwa Njenga or riding the Matatu to a Huru Kit distribution in Gatundo North, we have been asking ourselves the same question:  How can we reach more girls with our message of Huru, to let them know that they are not alone?  In Swahili, Huru means Freedom.  How can we give wings to our messages of hope and encouragement, letting them fly to into the hands and hearts of girls around the world who need them most?

Through our conversations with each other and with those in the community around us, we have put together a list of inspirational messages for girls around the world.  From our hearts in Kenya to yours: read these messages and know that every single one of your dreams is possible.  We believe in you!



“Wherever you are:  Be positive in everything that you do, feeling encouraged in each and every day.  You will end up changing the situations that you are in and living better lives for yourselves and for those who are around you.  So you should not feel like, ‘Maybe it was not meant for me.  Maybe I’m just not so lucky…’  You should know that there is a reason for every person, everywhere that they are placed.  Especially those that are in the slums in Africa, you should know that you can do better.  You can become better people, you can provide, you can help yourselves and help your communities, and your families and everyone that is around you.  Just work hard and believe in yourself.”



“I advise you to value your education first. Other things will come later. You know, when you are educated, there are so many opportunities – you need to go to school. That is the first thing that you need to. Go and work hard in school. Believe in the power of education. It is a road to everything that you want in life.”



“Girls, dream big and finish your school. Education first is very important. You work hard, and you will be protected.”



“I know both the good side of life and the bad side of life – I’ve had both of them. Growing up was not easy for me; going to school was not easy either. But everything is possible, despite what you go through. As long as you know where you want to be, you will always make it to get there. But if you lose hope along the way, you will never get there. So you just need to focus, in spite of whatever barriers you get along the way – they are just supposed to be a stepping stone for you to go to the next level. Any challenges are supposed to encourage you.”



“You have the same opportunities that boys have. You should never lose hope or have low self esteem. You should feel proud of yourself.”



“Appreciate who you are.  Just love yourself.  As you grow up, you should love yourself as a woman:  that is the message.  Because when a girl loves herself, she will protect herself.  She won’t be involved with peer pressure – because you love yourself.  And when you love yourself, you want the best for yourself.  Appreciate who you are, especially as you are growing up and especially at that age when we are staring our period.  Because that is the most important age in a girl’s life.  This is the age when you realize that you are growing up; and if you don’t love yourself, you might not achieve what you want.  This is the age when girls set their goals.  This is the age when we ask girls, ‘What do you want to be in the future?’  They really have a focus.  This is the message:  As you grow up, you should love yourself.  You should appreciate yourself.  Be bold and assertive about your dreams.”

Today, we are asking for your help to give these messages wings.  Please Like HURU on Facebook, follow @HuruKits on Twitter, share our stories and ask your friends to do the same.  Celebrate International Day of the Girl Child by helping to spread the message of HURU:  Empower girls. Period.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit

Originally published on Huru International, circa October 2013

JLA – Micato Safaris

I love hearing from you –
post your questions & comments here,
circa anytime.  You can also
Like me on Facebook & Follow me on Twitter!


Click here to read my introduction by Sex & Sensibilities founder Ana Santos…


Hello, Sex and Sensibilities readers 🙂  My name is Joy Lynn Alegarbes, and I am a Filipina-American sexual health advocate living in New York City. I am also the Director of Global Operations for The Condom Project, an organization that works internationally to destigmatize condoms, to create peer condom distribution programs and to develop educational materials.  It was my pleasure to meet SAS founder Ana Santos while in Bali, Indonesia this past summer at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific; she recently invited me to be a guest blogger on this site, and I could not have been more excited to contribute to the sexual health and sensibilities of Filipinas worldwide.

I emailed Ana with a few ideas about blog posts for the month of March, and she encouraged me to focus my first post on the benefits of condoms and their help in reducing HIV transmission in Asian communities.  Given the current controversy with Philippine Department of Health Secretary Cabral, I thought this to be a particularly relevant subject.

In a recent email, Ana wrote from the Philippines:

It was on the news yesterday that the HIV numbers for Jan 2010 are in and they are again the highest recorded number in a month — overthrowing Dec 09 the previously proclaimed highest number. It just means that the numbers are on a consistent rise and we may no longer be classified as a low-incidence country soon. =(

A simple Google search of the phrase “Condoms in the Philippines” yielded the following results:

“The Great Hypocrisy About Sex and Condoms in the Philippines…”
“Philippines sits on HIV time bomb”
“Philippines: Anti-Condom Policies Could Spark AIDS Explosion”

So if 1) HIV transmission in the Philippines is on an unprecedented rise, and 2) latex and synthetic condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission during sexual activity… then why is there a such a controversy over making condoms free and available to the Filipino population, especially on a romantic holiday such as St. Valentines Day?

In my research for this first blog post I found much evidence on the positive effects of condom use in the LGBT community, among sex workers and with intravenous drug users in Asia.  While these are all wonderful findings, I was disappointed that I could not easily access more information about the benefits of condom use in other Asian populations.  My first post as a Sex and Sensibilities guest blogger is a personal attempt to make that gap of virtual information a little less wide 😉

Condoms are for women. Taking a condom with you for a night out should be as normal as taking your mobile phone, your keys, your purse.  We are responsible for our own health and well-being 🙂  Gender norms and attitudes about sex, particularly in relation to roles and responsibilities, have changed significantly in the past few decades.  We are living at a time when we can enjoy a happy and healthy sex life!  Women who carry condoms are not loose – we’re just smart. Like men, we cannot predict the future, but we should try our best to be prepared for it.

Condoms are for Catholics. An enormous part of being a good Catholic is caring for and respecting those around you.  By using condoms, you are demonstrating the deep care you have for both yourself and your partner.  You are showing that you respect the right to live a healthy and happy life; the right to family planning and to have children only when you are ready; the right to choose how, when and with whom to engage in sexual activity; the right to decide what is best for you.

St. Valentine is the Catholic Patron Saint of Love, Young People and Happy Marriages. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.  In 2006, National Condom Week was celebrated for the first time from February 14th to February 21st in California, a state that is populated by nearly 480,000 Filipinos.  As I was raised a Catholic and taught to pray to the Saints for strength and hope, I’d like to believe that St. Valentine helped to conspire in this happy, week-long observance 😉  Click here to download Sex in the HIV/AIDS Era: A Guide for Catholics and to read about why Good Catholics Use Condoms.

Condom are for everyone. We should all learn about condoms, their health benefits as a medical device and even their added benefits beyond prevention.  If you are sexually active, then you should know that condoms are highly effective in preventing both unintended pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.  If you are not sexually active, you should still know this life-saving information so that you can pass it along to the people in your life who are sexually active.  You don’t need to know how to drive a car to understand the benefits of wearing a seat belt, right?

Sex is a choice. You can choose to not have sex, and the people that truly care about you should respect your decision; but if you are going to choose to be sexually active, then you need to know the options you have to protect yourself and your partner.

Watch out for my next guest blog post for, The SASsy Woman’s Guide to Buying Condoms 😉

%d bloggers like this: