1/ Who are you and what does Iele Sanziene do? How did it all begin?
The idea behind the Iele-Sânziene association appeared in the summer of 2019, when I was working as a volunteer in a menstrual education project in Tanzania. I realized then that the problems, obstacles and questions faced by young women there are the same in Romania, so I set out to create a feminist organization that would promote gender equality, fight for the normalization of menstruation and eradicating menstrual poverty and facilitating female solidarity and the creation of communities of girls and women. I am concerned about the education and rights of teenage girls in Romania in an almost personal way, I could say, from my perspective as a former teenager - with a lot of shortcomings, despite countless privileges.
2/ Is there talk of menstrual poverty in Romania today? What are the challenges of teenage girls in Romania today? Isn't the issue of menstruation still a bit taboo in Romania?
In Romanian society, menstruation is still a taboo subject, surrounded by shame and myths that prevent access to education and menstrual products suitable for every need. Just like toilet paper, menstrual products are a necessity and a right. These are indispensable for all menstruating people (approximately 4.8 million in Romania, of which 702,820 are teenagers between the ages of 12-18), to be able to be active in the life of the community as on any other day.
The consequences of not having access to safe menstrual products are:
- Using improvised materials such as paper, rags or clothes, which can lead to infections and diseases of the reproductive system
- School absences, which have a negative effect on education
- Increasing stigma on the natural processes of the human body
- Social exclusion: in 2019, 33.5% of females aged 0-17 were at risk of social exclusion.
According to Eurostat data on poverty and our calculations, approximately 415,000 teenage girls in Romania suffer from menstrual poverty. And the lack of accurate information and perpetuation of shame affects even more young women. That's why, as early as 2020, we started working as an association on various projects in the context of menstrual education.
We do workshops with teenage girls, we created a charity shop with eco-friendly menstrual products, we opened the subject of menstruation in the online environment, we researched the data from Romania and we distributed products among girls and women with precarious material situations. And in 2021 we launched a petition for the introduction of menstrual products for free in schools - this generated discussions with representatives of the ministries of health and education and led to a pilot project in Sector 6 in Bucharest.
3/ How did you find out about Librea and why do you have them in your e-shop?
Iele Shop is the charity shop of the association through which we raise funds for projects dedicated to teenage girls. We want to promote through our charity shop menstrual products with as little impact on the environment as possible, which are at the same time convenient and useful for managing menstruation. We are happy to collaborate with a brand like Libréa because their products are created and manufactured in Romania in a responsible way.
4 / What are you dreaming about now? How can we help Iele Sanziene?
Our mission is to support young women who need resources and information about puberty, menstruation, sexual relationships so they can be healthy and independent. Through all the projects we run, we promote gender and opportunity equality, female solidarity and sustainability.
We live in a post-communist society where feminism, sexuality, menstruation are taboo subjects, shrouded in shame, and this greatly affects our daily lives, especially teenagers and young people who go through natural changes and do not have access to information suitable for them. Together with other NGOs in the field and dedicated people, we too are working to change this and ensure that young people receive the resources they need to develop harmoniously in an inclusive, more equal society.
I would say that one of the most ambitious plans for 2022 is expanding the network of activists and trainers to be able to reach as many young people as possible. Registrations are being made here .
Well-wishers can help us by becoming recurring donors, by donating 3.5% of their income tax or simply by spreading the word about our projects.
All ways of involvement are here .