Empower 2 Educate
Changing the cycle of how communities view the menstrual cycle
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Idea (hoping to get started in the future)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
Every month, girls just like me get their period and are struck by fear. Fear of shame from their family, fear of embarrassment from their peers at school, and this exact fear jeopardizes their health and education. Every week, I pick up unused medical supplies donated from the hospital to be sent internationally. What started as a normal pick-up, sparked an idea that could change the lives of thousands of girls just like me. On the pick up, I filled the car to the top with hundreds of menstrual pads. It got me thinking about where those pads could go. That past summer, a friend had worked in garment factories in Bangladesh and explained the deplorable conditions women are subject to. I looked around the car and realized how I take basic necessities for granted -- my mind drove to hundreds of potential solutions leading to one road -- Empower 2 Educate.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Lack of access to menstrual products affects millions of girls around the world - but due to taboo, discussion of the problem is silent just like a period. My goal is to elevate the voices of girls because a lack of access to menstrual products has been linked to missing 2+ months of school, greater dropout rates, higher health risks, and greater risk of childhood marriage. This cycle of silence about women’s menstrual cycles needs to broken.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Step 1: Understand the needs of the community we work with - understand exactly how they handle their menses, how they learn about periods, and conduct a needs-assessment to determine the best way to integrate the program with their community.
Step 2: Create a prototype based off of the community's access to cheap garments to ensure sustainability of the endeavor - if we get products from the community, we can make sure we are investing in their businesses and also ensuring that the supplies to create pads are accessible to the community.
Step 3: Partner with community health workers in the community and provide training on how to teach about the menses and how to train women to make reusable pads.
Step 4: Closely coordinate with health bureaus and partnered NGO's to provide education to garment workers on how to create sanitary pads and handle their periods. Workshops are open to the whole community.
Step 5: Encourage and support women who want to use the skills learned to 1) create their own businesses to sell reusable pads to women in their community 2) share this knowledge with their daughters so they no longer have to miss school because of their periods.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Sarah wakes up one day and realizes that mother nature decided to visit her for the week. Her heart skips a beat for a moment, dreading missing another week of school because of her period. She already missed one every month of the school-year so far and if she misses another, she will be forced to drop out of school.
She calls out to her mother and relief runs through her body as her mother walks in with a period kit from Empower 2 Educate's workshop last week. Sarah's mother works in the garment factory down the road and her mother learned how to make reusable pads. Sarah grabs one and stores another in her bag, ready to take on another day of learning. Her mother had extra because she's creating a business to sell reusable pads to the community. This workshop provided a means for greater health, education, and opportunity for Sarah, her mother, their community, and beyond.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Many programs to provide menstrual products often collect and donate non-reusable products which carry unintended consequences -- they leave these communities with great wastage because there is no infrastructure to safely dispose of their products and also provide no sustainable way for them to have access to menstrual products in the long run. By educating women on how to use eco-friendly reusable pads, we get to ensure sustainability for their environment and their community.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We plan to monitor progress closely through surveying in the community that we work with before and after. Since this is still in the idea stage, there has not been direct impact yet, but to make sure that the project is running smoothly as possible we want to make sure there is reflection at each stage of the project to ensure that it is being implemented in the best way possible.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships. We believe that the most important thing about interventions like these is making sure that nothing goes without the say of the community in every respect. The community we work with knows best their own needs. They also know the best way to make sure that the project runs smoothly. Future partnerships could include primary schools to provide education to both girls and boys to further health equity in the realm of education. Another future partnership could include major stakeholders in the community such as imams, priests, and other religious figures who play an important role in educating their communities.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
We would need either donations or monetary resources to get the initial equipment to create pads - this means sewing kits and materials to create the pads themselves. We also have an educational booklet in Bengali and English on pads that will be apart of the period kits we provide. For the most part, this project is all about doing the most with the least amount of outside resources possible. We would also need a team to work directly in the community that we work with to provide the education on how to implement workshops and create partnerships for the program.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
The most incredible aspect about Empower 2 Educate is that it is extremely versatile. We can do everything from partnering with other organizations who are providing community health education to include our lessons in their initiatives to joining forces with programs working in schools to provide education on menstrual health through our workshops. We can also work closely with WASH projects from changemakers.com to ensure that we are not only providing menstrual products, but a place for girls to safely use them in their communities. Overall, this silent problem has an extreme amount of depth to it and multiple levels that need to be addressed. Empower 2 Educate wants to work together with as many organizations as possible to ensure that the best care is provided to girls who need it.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
How did you hear about this challenge?