Last May, we launched a special One4Her campaign in partnership with Diva International Inc. to provide sustainable menstrual supplies to students at the Pader Girls Academy. For every DivaCup we sold, Diva International Inc. pledged to donate 1 AFRIpads Kit, providing a reusable supply of cloth pads for a minimum of 12 menstrual cycles.
For those unfamiliar with this story, the Pader Girls Academy is a unique secondary boarding school in rural Northern Uganda that was founded in 2008 to support child mothers escaping LRA captivity. Tragically, many of these young survivors faced stigma and rejection from their families & communities due to their association as “wives” to rebel commanders — despite knowing that they had been brutalized and taken against their will.
Today, the school has broadened its mission to also provide social, academic, and vocational opportunities to girls who have aged out of their grade level or who lack financial resources as a result of the ongoing conflict. It’s the only school in the region where those who are pregnant or have children can receive quality education and free childcare.
Thanks to your purchases, we surpassed our initial goal of 500 and were able to provide the school with a total of 524 AFRIpads Kits to distribute to its students.
In September, we received an update from Denis Ongaya, PGA’s Deputy Program Director. He let us know that the donation made possible by your support would really help those studying at the academy stay in class during their periods — removing menstruation as a barrier to achieving their educational goals.
His letter went on to explain the critical role that reusable pads play in circumventing what he calls the “downward spiral of vulnerability”. He tells us that girls who cannot access basic necessities like menstrual products are at an increased risk for abuse and exploitation from men who would demand sex in exchange for these (and other) essential resources.
We heard the same in 2014 from Maggie Crosby, a graduate student who traveled to PGA with the aim of developing the school’s first sexual and reproductive health curriculum. While in Pader, she learned that many girls in the community were introduced into a cycle of poverty and pregnancy as a result of the kinds of coercion mentioned above. Through her interviews at the school, it became clear that a stronger sense of agency, bodily autonomy, and more empowered lives overall would begin with ensuring that the students’ most basic needs were met. Indeed, when girls were asked what health resources would be most useful to them, they told her, overwhelmingly, that pads were a top priority.
PGA is a community of girls who have been stripped of their power. Poverty happens to them, sex happens to them, pregnancy happens to them. To see these strong young women reclaiming their voices, taking initiative, and finding a sense of control over even one aspect of their lives is thrilling—especially when that one seemingly small thing—menstruation—can have such a ripple effect on other areas of their lives and on the rest of their lives.
— Maggie Crosby
We feel so fortunate for the opportunity to lend our support to this incredible organization, and to the limitless futures of the students at Pader Girls Academy. If you would like to take part in our other social change initiatives, consider shopping to support One4Her or making a donation to Pads4Girls.
- Changing Futures at the Pader Girls Academy May, 2015
- Providing Period Care for Pader Girls Academy October, 2015
- One4Her Provides Basic Needs to the Pader Girls Academy October, 2014