Student Group Helps Zambian Girls Stay in School with Hygiene Kits

Illustration for article titled Student Group Helps Zambian Girls Stay in School with Hygiene Kits

“Dignity during menstruation”: something that many of us in Western countries don’t think twice about—probably even take for granted—and that a Gonzaga University student group wants to ensure at-risk Zambian girls can have, too.


Reports The Seattle Times:

A group of students and faculty from Gonzaga University is heading to Zambia on Monday, carrying unlikely tools for social change: feminine-hygiene kits that will make it possible for young girls and women to stay in school.

This is the second year the Gonzaga-in-Zambezi program for organizational leadership has added the cloth kits to the supplies and services that students share with villagers in the sub-Saharan African nation, said Josh Armstrong, director of the school’s comprehensive leadership program.

The 19 students and three faculty members will bring 75 hygiene kits that include cloth liners and absorbent pads that can be washed and reused for up to three years, boosting privacy and dignity during menstruation.

It’s an idea gleaned from the Lynden, Whatcom County, nonprofit Days for Girls International, which has supplied kits to more than 100,000 girls and women on six continents since 2008.

Without access to feminine hygiene products, many of these girls and women are shunned during their periods—some “go out and stay with with cattle,” said a representative from the Days for Girls group; discussion of menstruation is also shunned—and are often left to their own devices in creating makeshift pads out of leaves, mattress stuffing and rocks, which sounds just awful.

If you haven’t already teared up yet, there’s this: the Zambian girls “stood up and started singing and dancing” when they received their kits—the organizers said they couldn’t get a word in edgewise because the girls were so excited—and Days for Girls plans on distributing raw materials in developing countries so that women can begin to create and sell their own kits.

Image via Getty


Mitch Connor