By Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorNovember 19, 2015
image via begirl.org
Last month Michelle Obama started a hashtag campaign to raise awareness for the 62 million girls across the globe that do not have access to education. The question is why are they not going to school? It’s a complicated variety of answers including cost, distance, violence, gender norms, poverty, and early marriage and pregnancy.
Girls in sub-Saharan Africa and developing nations miss more school than boys, because they stay at home during their menstruation periods.
They lack the supplies to properly care for and clean themselves during this part of the month, so they refrain from attending school altogether for those days to avoid making a mess. This greatly affects their ability to learn and stay caught up with their work and, in far too many cases, can lead to them dropping out completely.
Diana Sierra saw the need while visiting Uganda a few years ago and has since created a pair of underwear called BeGirl that could change the world by providing girls the supplies they need to attend school regardless of menstruation.
The underwear “takes advantage of supplies girls already have access to. A simple waterproof pocket can be stuffed with toilet paper, rags, or anything absorbent” [Peters]. With this, girls no longer have to worry about not having a pad or a tampon and can actually feel more confident. It’s easier and less taboo to talk about a pair of panties than a pad.
These simple and affordable supplies give easy access and allow girls to feel more comfortable as women and give them the opportunity to get the education they not only want, but also deserve. BeGirl is easy to use and is more sustainable for girls in developing countries than other products available like the Diva Cup that requires better access to water and hygiene.
When girls receive an education, the whole world benefits.
Economies grow; the cycle of poverty is broken, infant and maternal mortality rates decrease, and so much more. Ethiopia’s economy would add $4 billion USD if every girl in the country finished school.
With sustainable solutions like these, girls across the globe can spend their time learning and growing and giving to their communities instead of hiding away. This pair of panties can change the world for the better by providing girls the confidence and strength to live up to their potential. Girls will be able to create, innovate, and pioneer new solutions that will continue to improve their own lives and the lives of billions of others, all because of a pair of underwear.
Have you heard of BeGirl underwear? How can we raise awareness to this issue? How can we help?
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.