International Woman’s Day
"My passion is getting girls into education..."
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, political, personal and cultural achievements of women all over the world. With high profile movements such as #MeToo, and #Timesup now more than ever, it’s so important to get involved and get talking, locally, nationally and globally, to help women advance and provide better opportunities for young girls.
Where we work, women often fare worst from lack of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, and in all aspects of African life, there is a long way to go before equality is achieved. Women are less likely to finish education: female illiteracy rates are 7% higher than men in Zambia, and 28% higher in Mozambique. Young are teased about their periods and often miss school, or they are needed at home to collect water. If a family can only afford to educate one child, the daughter will stay home until they are married. Without proper latrines women are forced to go in the open bush where they are at risk of physical attacks and sexual violence.
Our projects focus on access to safe water, hygienic facilities and improved knowledge, the knock on effects of which improve so much more than just health. Women and girls no longer spend all day collecting water, they have time to learn a skill, earn a wage, go back to education. The combination of health and hygiene promotion, such as menstrual hygiene management, and safe, hygienic facilities results in a reduction of girls school absenteeism, a lower risk of maternal deaths and child mortality, and proper facilities like covered latrines and private washrooms at school mean girls and women are safer.
Today, in honour of International Women’s Day I went to meet a very inspirational lady, Ruth Andrew: Sewing-Superstar, who hand-makes everything you can imagine, from bees wax food wraps to drawstring bags to aga covers and donates all the proceeds to Village Water. This year Village Water Zambia are extending menstrual health sessions to include workshops teaching girls how to make their own sanitary products, and Ruth is currently designing the prototype for them to work with.
Most women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa have no facilities available to them at all when it comes to periods and no understanding from their peers, parents and teachers, Ruth said “My passion is getting girls into education” and something as simple as a sanitary pad can make a long day at school a lot more manageable.
From a textile and design background, she can whip up a drawstring bag in no time at all, but when it comes to designing simple to make, re-usable, hardy and hygienic sanitary pads, it’s a bit more complicated. Underwear isn’t commonly worn so the design must include a adjustable belt that the pad can be clipped on to. Ruth is passionate at creating things for other people, and she’s incredibly inventive with her designs – she once made herself a dress out of odd materials at home when she was just 8 years old – so if anyone can figure it out, Ruth can.
Here’s to Ruth, and all the women, worldwide, working together to make it a better place for everyone else.
If you’d like to find out more about the great stuff Ruth makes, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org