Georgia Scarborough says “TWAWEZA!” (Swahili for “We Can!”)
From the beginning, Georgia Scarborough ‘18 knew that she wanted women’s health issues to be at the forefront of her Global Studies project. She had long been interested in the Enkijape School, Highland’s sister school in Kenya, and after much research, settled on a project that combined both interests: She would research the United Nations- declared human rights crisis that is the menstruation taboo. Menstruation is a topic that is still globally stigmatized, but is particularly so in East Africa where the Enkijape School is located.
With guidance from her Global Studies advisors, Mrs. Marjorie Kuzminski and Ms. Phoebe Krumich, Georgia began investigating the issue. Her reading led her to a new understanding of the challenges many East African women face, and she shared her findings in an assembly presentation to upper school students and faculty in February 2018. Her riveting program outlined the shame and marginalization women face each month, and detailed how lack of access to adequate sanitary supplies keeps girls out of school on a regular basis. In Kenya, girls miss on average four days of school a month, and often drop out altogether. Georgia noted that women and girls often must use old rags or even mattress stuffing as absorbents, risking their health in the process.
Georgia’s research led her to Femme International, a non-governmental organization headquartered in Canada, and committed to using education and conversation to break down the taboo on a global scale. By taking an education-based approach, Femme International tackles the issue at its root, seeking to end the gender disparity that results from myths which isolate and shame women during their monthly cycles. Their website features the hashtag #nomorelimits to underscore its goal of empowering healthy, confident women.
So where does the Enkijabe School come into the picture? As part of her project, Georgia has partnered with Femme International to bring their program to Highland’s sister school. Her goal is to raise enough money to provide a “femme kit” for 200 students and teachers there. Costing $35 (Canadian), each kit contains sustainable sanitary and cleaning supplies, and a workbook. Prior to distribution of the kits, students will receive education about the human body, and engage in guided conversations designed to break down taboos surrounding menstruation and gender. With an end date of August 2018, Georgia has already raised $1350 toward her goal of $7150. To learn more about Georgia's GoFundMe campaign or to make a donation, please click here.
The goal of Highland’s Global Studies Program is to “produce global citizens who have acquired a deeper understanding of world cultures and global issues.” [link to Highland webpage for Global Studies]. Georgia has not only acquired a deeper understanding of what it takes to produce the next generation of confident, healthy women, but has raised awareness in the Highland community by sharing her insights and pursuing a tangible goal for girls at Enkijape School. A Highland Lifer who dances professionally and runs her own photography business, she will matriculate at Elon University next fall.
Thanks to Cathy Campbell for writing this post for the Highland blog. You can reach Cathy at email@example.com
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