Founding Director, Femme International
International Development, 2013
Sabrina Rubli took a “light bulb moment” as a student and created a clear, simple plan with the potential to create real change for women in developing communities.
It started when Rubli and her classmate Ella Marinic were tasked with designing a water sanitation program for a rural Kenyan community in their International Development program. They couldn’t help but ask: How do women without access to water sanitation systems manage while menstruating?
While researching options available to women and girls with no sanitation resources, the duo discovered that girls in Kenya’s slums missed an average of five days of school a month, mainly as a result of staying home while menstruating. “What got me motivated was the importance of the issue and the simplicity of the solution,” says Rubli. “The puzzle pieces just fit together; I felt passionate about how simple and sustainable the solution was.”
Determined to find a solution, her school project developed into a successful small non-governmental organization (NGO), employing five local staff members, and impacting nearly 1000 young girls in only two years.
Femme International’s Feminine Health Management (FHM) program, which combines feminine hygiene kits as well as educational sessions, is keeping schoolgirls in East Africa inside the classroom. It is one of only a few non-governmental organizations in the world dedicated to menstrual health and hygiene education, and the only organization promoting reusable menstrual cups as a sustainable solution.
“The results speak for themselves,” Rubli explains. “You can’t ignore the economic impact of girls staying in school. I see women as the answer to sustainable development. When women stay in school they have a greater chance to graduate from high school and a much greater chance to continue on and find meaningful jobs. Staying in school is everything.”