Empower Women in Africa

I had my first period when I was eleven years old.  I was at school.  The secretary allowed me to call my mother, who came and picked me up, took me home to change clothes, and took me back to school.  Since that day, I have occasionally missed class because I wasn’t feeling well during my period, but by and large, I am able get up and do what has to be done, regardless of the time of month.

This is not the case in much of the world.

In low-resource countries, onset of menstruation is associated with a number of negative outcomes for girls.  They are often unable to attend school during their periods, so drop-out rates for adolescent girls are significantly higher than for adolescent boys.  This, in turn, affects their ability to earn income and contribute to the community in the long term.  Even if they do continue to attend, they are often distracted and unable to focus, leading them to perform more poorly than their male counterparts.  Additionally, these girls are at increased risk for reproductive tract infections.

There are two reasons for these negative outcomes.  First, in many countries, menstruation carries a high level of stigma.  Women are considered unclean, contaminating, and dangerous during their periods.  Traditionally, women in many of these societies were isolated during menstruation.  While that practice is changing, the attitudes behind it are slower to die off, leaving women feeling uncertain and insecure about inhabiting public spaces during their periods.  Additionally, because there is so much stigma and shame about this topic, girls often do not have correct information about what is happening to their bodies, leading to fear and confusion.  Second, girls in low-resource settings are often unable to afford disposable pads or other sanitary means of dealing with their periods.  This leads to a number of improvised methods (scraps of cloth, mud, tree bark, toilet paper) that many not be sanitary enough to avoid infection and may not be effective enough to prevent embarrassing stains.

There are a number of incredible groups working to change this in sustainable ways.  One group that I have been privileged to work with as a student is Empower Women in Africa.  EWA works to works to provide educational and economic opportunities to women in Namibia by providing reusable cloth pads to school-aged girls and by helping local women start businesses to produce these pads for their communities.

In honor of International Women’s Day (which was March 8, so I’m a little late), I would like to invite my readers to partner with me in supporting this incredible organization.  There are three ways you can contribute to EWA.  1)  You can make a monetary donation.  2)  You can host a pad-sewing party.  3)  You can give them a signal-boost by telling your friends and family about this issue or posting about their website on social media sites.

Thanks to those of you who are reading!  If you’d like more information about this issue and the ways it is being addressed, click on the links below:

Empower Women in Africa

Days for Girls


Menstrual Hygiene:  A Neglected Condition for the Achievement of Several Millennium Development Goals


Clicky Links

I’ve had a migraine all day, which has left me rather uninspired (although I feel much better than I did when I posted yesterday).  So . . . here are a few things I’ve particularly enjoyed on the internet this week.

Baked S’mores

S’mores are one of my favorite things ever, but these are even better than the campfire original.  The graham cracker is replaced by a graham-cookie and the marshmallows by marshmallow creme to create a delightfully gooey dessert.  It’s pretty messy to make, partially because anything involving an entire jar of marshmallow creme is doomed to messiness, but also because getting the top crust on can be a little tricky if it’s not something you do a lot.  I made this to take to a friend’s for New Year’s Eve and again to take to a potluck last weekend.  So far everyone who’s eaten it has given it rave reviews!

“What if We Responded to Sexual Assault by Limiting Men’s Freedom Like We Limit Women’s”

Delightfully thought-provoking satire about rape culture (which sounds terrible but actually isn’t, I promise).  Amanda Taub at Wronging Rights . . . does what it says on the tin.  Don’t read the comments, though.  Seriously.  I didn’t until I shared it with someone and she mentioned the comments section.  Then I got curious, read them, and promptly wished I hadn’t.  They’ll make you sad.  They’ll make you angry.  They’ll make you concerned about the future of humanity.  But the article is really quite good.


If you or anyone you care about has ever been involved in any sort of research, this will make you laugh.  Possibly hyperventilate.  And probably feel much better about the things that go on in your own laboratory/field sites.  If the research papers I have to slog through for my classes were half this honest . . . well, I probably wouldn’t be reading them for my classes . . . but I would be so much more likely to finish my reading promptly.

Ruby Rose Handbags

My ideal purse is a clutch.  If I didn’t think I would lose them constantly, I would carry them everywhere.  (I have an unfortunate tendency to set things down and forget about them, so if I can’t actually attach it to my body, I consider a poor choice for daily use.)  Clutches don’t get cluttered because they’re too small for you to just mindlessly stuff things into them.  And they tend to look sassy, which I enjoy.  These clutches, though, are particularly awesome.  I kind of want to buy one of each.  Unfortunately, two of these bags would be my grocery and fun money combined for a month.

This is nothing like 500 words, but at least I posted something tonight.  Hopefully I’ll feel a bit better tomorrow for my first day of classes.

Read anything interesting this week?  Share a link in the comments!



His Eye is on the Sparrow

The series I mentioned in yesterday’s post isn’t coming quite yet.  It’s going to take a bit of thinking and planning on my part, and I didn’t have time for that today.

The reason I didn’t have time for that today is that I had a JOB INTERVIEW!!!  I’ve been looking for a second job for a while, and this is the third interview I’ve had.  So far, nothing has been a good fit, one way or the other, and I’m getting a little desperate.  As for today, it was the strangest interview I’ve ever had.

The interviewer asked me to tell her a little bit about myself and why I was interested in the position.  Then she told me about the project and what she was looking for in an employee.  Then she told me what I had come into the interview dreading, which is that I don’t have enough experience to be what she needs.

At this point, I was a little frustrated.  I mean, it’s always flattering to get an interview, but I had clearly stated my level of experience in my resume and cover letter.  Why had she wasted everyone’s time by calling me in?

Then she told me something I never expected to hear.  She said, “I didn’t really think you were a good fit for the position, but your cover letter was so great that I just really wanted to meet you!”

She went on to say that she thinks I would be a better fit for another open position on the same project and that she has passed on my materials to the appropriate supervisor.  Additionally, she said that if I am hired for that position, she would be happy to work with me on building some additional skills in the area of the job I originally applied for.

It’s easy to look for God’s hand in the big things.  It’s easy to see Him in the split-second avoidance of a terrible car crash or the completion of a life-long goal.  It’s easy to see God in the scholarship won, the degree earned, or the promotion gained.

But sometimes, the little things slip by us.  The moments that are just as beautifully, carefully orchestrated but not quite as life-changing go unnoticed.

I could not have arranged these opportunities myself.  Had I applied directly to the other position, I likely would not have stood out as much.  Had I been hired for the other position, I might have never had the chance to ask this woman to mentor me in her field.  Even if I end up not getting the job she’s referring me for, this means that I’m getting talked about within my department, which can only help my chances of finding a job somewhere.  And at the very least, this gives me a much-needed ego boost about my ability to present myself well to potential employers.

And with all of that in mind, I can’t help but see God’s hand in this.