Scout leads fight against period poverty in Namibia

Namibia scouts

A Scottish scout has been helping women in Namibia who face period poverty 

25th May 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A scout from West Lothian is leading the fight against period poverty in an African country.

Kirsten, aged 25, from West Lothian has completed an amazing 80 hour volunteering project helping teach women and girls in Namibia how to make their own period products.

The project was so successful that the chief scout of Namibia is looking to roll the project out with Scouts Namibia to help women and girls manage their periods in a safer way.

In rural Namibia many women and girls do not have access to period products, as a result many miss school. As part of her Scouts of the World Award, Kirsten wanted to play a small part in changing that. She travelled to Namibia with a group of Scouts in 2016 and has continued her project on returning to Scotland. While in Namibia she taught three teachers and two students how to make their own period products and how to clean them in a sanitary way, those teachers are continuing to teach girls in a school in the village of Omakange how to make the products.

The Scouts of the World Award requires a young person to complete a project under the themes of peace, environment or sustainability; the award is listed as one of the top awards a young person can achieve. It was developed to allow a young person to gain skills for life while undertaking a project that will make a sustainable impact either in the local, national or international community.

Kirsten said: “This project is something that I am extremely passionate about. I studied biological science and infectious diseases at university and I am aware that unhygienic management of periods can have serious health impacts. I am so pleased that I have been able to help some of the women and girls in Namibia and that we could learn skills together that will hopefully be replicated across Namibia. I hope that this will reduce the amount of women and girls who miss school because of their periods.”

Angus Gillies, of Scouts Scotland, said: “This is an amazing achievement by Kirsten, one that will have a lasting legacy for the women and girls in Namibia. Period poverty is a very serious problem and it’s wrong that so many girls miss school because of a natural bodily function. This type of project is what Scouts are about, doing things for others and making the world a better place.”

Kirsten researched how to make the products online, selected the easiest pattern for teach and adapted the materials to what would be available in Namibia. Before going to Namibia she secured donations of three sewing machines and materials to be used, and a local charity called Smalls for All also donated 400 pairs of pants for young people at the school. One of the machines was donated to a local woman in the village, who has also been making the products for women in the village.