Wunders: An Anti-Trafficking Program

What is Wunders? 

One of the most vulnerable times in a young woman’s life is when she begins to menstruate. Menstruation around the globe comes with shame, uncertainty, and anxiety. It also is accompanied by lots of questions and concerns – “will I have monthly supplies?” or “Will I be able to attend school this month?” Wunders seeks and understands the negative impact of period poverty and is actively fighting against it. 

Wunders equips girls and women to thrive around the world by helping girls stay in school through locally-made sustainable menstrual supplies and community-based education that emphasizes we are all created in the image of God. Wunders strives to give back young girls and women the dignity they deserve before, during, and after their period. 

Wunders is a synergistic partnership between SEED Livelihood Network, International Child Care Ministries, Set Free Movement, and Free Methodist World Missions.  

What is period poverty? 

Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, hand washing facilities, toilets, menstrual hygiene education, and waste management. While the term period poverty is relatively new, awareness and discussion of the global menstrual health issue and stigma has been long known. 

With more than 800 million women menstruating daily, promoting menstrual education and supplies is crucial to support women and young girls. The fight against period poverty is a fight to give girls and women back the dignity they rightfully deserve while keeping them from more vulnerabilities. 

How is period poverty linked to human trafficking?

Vulnerabilities are a huge link to human trafficking. With the start of menstruation being one of the most vulnerable times in a young girl’s life, the connection between the two are almost magnetic.

The lack of access to hygiene supplies directly leads to girls dropping out of school. According to a 2014 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1 out of 10 menstruating youth miss school during their cycle due to lack of access to menstrual products and resources. 

In India alone, over 23% of girls drop out of school when they start menstruating. In a study conducted in Ethiopia, 56% of girls stated they missed school because they didn’t have a pad. 

In Kenya specifically, 50% of school-aged girls don’t have access to sanitary products, while some even share used pads. 65% of women in Kenya were unable to afford period products.

How girls and women in Kenya manage their periods:

A leader at Thrive, our on-the-ground partner spearheading education and training in schools in Kenya, shares some heartbreaking ways young girls and women make due during that time of the month.

  • During the day they may sit underneath a tree on top of soil to allow the scorching sun to burn over them to cover up the stains. When they are without pads they may just stay at home until their period ends. 
  • At night, in order not to soil their bed or clothing, they pick up moist soil, place it in their hut, and sit naked on it the whole night and clean up the dirt in the morning. 
  • They use old, cut-up blankets. After it is soiled they’ll throw it away and replace it with another piece of cloth. 
  • Some use feathers from a slaughtered chicken.
  • They may use dried animal hind (special skin that has been softened) which is not absorbent or comfortable. 
  • In some communities, the older women and girls are isolated and not allowed to go near animals or older men or else they will be cursed.
  • During weddings, menstruating women can’t associate with others and must sit away from the group. 
  • Schoolgirls do not go to school and stay home because of shame and being teased by boys. 

When a young girl drops out of school and does not have education about her body, she is more likely to enter a child marriage, experience early pregnancy, experience domestic violence, and become a victim of human trafficking.

Period poverty not only can cause great physical health risks, but it also prevents women from reaching their full potential when they miss out on opportunities crucial to their growth – like school. 

That’s why Wunders is addressing period poverty through locally-made sustainable menstrual supplies and education to both young girls and boys.

Wunders keeps girls in school – giving them more opportunities for their future!

The cultural shame attached to menstruation and shortage of resources disempowers women and stops them from going to school and work every day. 

The power of investing in girls and women is obvious. A girl that completes one extra year of school can earn up to 20% more as an adult. The economic opportunity from educating and keeping girls in school doesn’t stop within the family. According to the USAID “when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3%”. Prioritizing menstrual health education and sustainable supplies will greatly increase opportunities and reduce the ever-growing vulnerabilities to trafficking.

All girls and women deserve dignity during their periods. Wunder’s holistic solution to this worldwide period poverty problem is helping empower women and rid them of shame to help keep them in school. Wunder’s is creating menstrual supplies and education that is helping keep girls in school and out of human trafficking. Wunder’s is reminding and instilling in girls that they are created in the image of God and there is no shame in the way God made them. 

Read more about Wunders or support the work by going to the website: www.wunderspartners.com.

 

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