Young Women Powering Progress
A group of young Namibian women established a non-profit initiative that aims to create awareness around topics regarding sexual and reproductive health, that group is the Power Pad Girls. The women behind the Power Pad Girls are young and spirited and not waiting anymore, for their elders to get comfortable with the topic. “We started raising awareness for Sister Namibia for their project Sister Pads, where they were providing reusable sanitary pads to girls from underprivileged communities, but now we’ve grown into an organisation of our own, where we also hold workshops that centre on everything related to sexual and reproductive health.” Explains Wayera Namadiko, one of the women behind the Power Pad girls.
“We figured that as young women it’s our responsibility to get into it and be the change.”
Another one of the women behind the Power Pad girls is Hildegard Titus, “We figured that as young women it’s our responsibility to get into it and be the change.” Says Hildegard who explains that the Power Pad Girls started when a group of girls became aware of the plight of many Namibian girls who do not have the means to purchase expensive disposable pads, and so end up missing school as a result of this need. “Ultimately our main goal is to have free pads, but not just free pads, we want the reusable ones because they more sustainable, they are better for the environment and they are longer lasting. For us it’s about creating the dialogue about girls having this issue with pads.” Says Hildegard, who adds “I mean Botswana a few weeks ago made pads free for school girls, so we as their neighbour should be following the same suit.”
“There was an incident where some of the female members of Parliament were too shy to address sexual health related issues and that’s very detrimental to the younger girls because now there are girls out there who can’t go to school because somebody is too shy to talk about them.”
Wayera notes that “I feel like we as the youth have an advantage because, we are more liberal in the way that we engage each other as opposed to like older more traditional members of Parliament for example. There was an incident where some of the female members of Parliament were too shy to address sexual health related issues and that’s very detrimental to the younger girls because now there are girls out there who can’t go to school because somebody is too shy to talk about them.”
“Menstruation is a thing that almost every woman has to go through and the fact that half of the population is grossed out by it and the other half of the population is ashamed that they do, it’s a problem.”
“Some girls are missing like twenty five days of school on their periods because they don’t want to bleed through their clothes. Some of them find a sugar daddy to help them pay for soap and pads. No one should sell themselves for basics.” Notes Hildegard who adds that a major contributor to the problem is that we don’t have the level of comfort to talk about these concerns. “We have a long way to go, so I think that it’s important for organisations like ours to work with the Government, but also to talk to other people to demystify this amongst ourselves. If we are not comfortable about talking about it, I mean menstruation is a thing that almost every woman has to go through and the fact that half of the population is grossed out by it and the other half of the population is ashamed that they do, it’s a problem. It’s like this taboo and this shame, and yet it’s something that is so natural. It’s something essential for continuation of humanity.”
Wayera feels this is why it is so important for the younger generation to speak up on these issues now, “We the youth are more vocal about these things. The older generation might not be as vocal but I think we’ve grown to be a bit more vocal than them.”
The Power Pad Girls are starting conversations and raising awareness through workshops and fund raising events. The workshops, the girls explain cover topics related to sexual health and rights. Hildegard explains that their events, such as the Quiz Nights, are aimed at raising funds, which are then used to support the Sister Namibian, Sister Pads project. “We give the funds to Sister Namibia, so that they could continue to make these Sister Pads that they distribute to the girls who need them the most.”
The next Power Pad Girls fund raising event is happening this week in the form of a Speed Dating Event. So whether you’re looking to find love or support this valuable cause, join the Power Pad Girls on the 16th of September 2017 at the Loft in Windhoek.
“For us it was just about, showing everyone that this is a problem and lets address this together.” Notes Hildegard.
Find out more about the Power Pad Girls Speed Dating Event by clicking here
Written by Kirsty Watermeyer