Education is the currency of survival, however not an economy everyone has access to. This harsh truth pertains mostly to women and is exemplified for the local female residents in rural areas. One out of ten teenage girls throughout Africa’s most rural regions misses a considerable amount of school each year, as much as 25 % annually, due to the humiliation and stigma related to menstruation as they do not have access to or cannot afford basics such as sanitary wear.
Women drive development in families, communities and nations.
Menstrual health is not just a “women’s issue”. Women drive development in families, communities and nations. Without access to basics such as menstrual pads, these young women are unable to harness their potential, disproportionately hindered in opportunities. Hence, Project Penya was born. The programme was formed out of inspiration from another women’s empowerment initiative – Project Dignity, a non profit organisation that uplifts and restores the dignity of school girls in South Africa.
Penya translated from Shona means “to shine” and this project’s core objective was to empower entire generations of teenage girls to have a brighter future. In the rural areas, monthly menstruation remains to impart social, cultural and financial restrictions on young girls, the result being ignorance of personal hygiene, shame and an inability to attend school. These girls do not have access to sanitary products, and simply cannot afford them every month. This heightens the risk of infection by improvising sanitary wear using mattress foam, leaves, blankets, rags, newspaper and even feathers – this is not only humiliating but completely ineffective.
The circle of life within the community empowers the cycle of life for future generations of women.
In a pre-Covid world we were able to raise awareness as well as funds to implement a sustainable programme which provided the girls of Dingani School with information, skills as well as hope for their futures. As a responsible tourism operation, Hideaways supported the Grow Africa Foundation by channelling funds from client’s bed-nights into providing sanitary pads made by a local women’s sewing group – Thandanani. A multi-beneficial approach by collaborating with the women of the village, who in turn assist the girls of the village. The circle of life within the community empowers the cycle of life for future generations of women.
It is here we encouraged and inspired female students to harness their ‘girl power’ and value themselves as respected members of the community.
Hideaways provided informative and in-depth talks to the girls focusing on the changes that their bodies are experiencing, how to control what is happening, and why it is important to remain in school. In addition to this, workshops were given to teach the girls how to make their own sanitary pads so they could remain independent of funds as well as share their knowledge with other girls and women in surrounding areas and beyond. These conversations were vital not only for health reasons, but were an opportunity to remind the girls of their abilities and responsibilities towards investing in their future. It is here we encouraged and inspired female students to harness their ‘girl power’ and value themselves as respected members of the community.
Without tourism, funds for Project Penya have diminished, affecting the lives of many rural women. By making a remote donation, futures may be transformed, allowing these girls “to shine”. Contact us to be a part of this change, educating the girls of tomorrow.