After a recent trip to India, I learned that many girls don’t have access to sanitary pads and other important menstrual products. I was surprised by the effect of not having access to sanitary pads: falling behind in education and losing their standing in their communities. For my project, I partnered with the Mangala Seva Orphanage in India and the Brydges Centre in Kenya to teach girls how to make reusable sanitary pads using materials they already have and to teach the girls how to sell pads in their local communities to tackle the stigma surrounding periods. This also provided more affordable pads to other women in their communities.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
Over 130 girls in both orphanages have directly benefited by learning how to make reusable sanitary pads, using materials they already own, allowing them to continue going to classes on their period. Together, both orphanages have sold over 50 pads to other women, benefiting their communities through this cottage industry.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
The directors at both orphanages have agreed to continue teaching girls how to make reusable pads for years to come. This project not only personally benefits the girls, but it allows them to get experience with sewing machines and sewing classes which they are already required to take. Both orphanages will also continue selling pads to other women in their communities and will donate reusable pads to those in need. In addition, my website includes instructions and templates that can be used by other organizations to get the same benefit. Website: https://padpower.weebly.com/
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
My project has a national connection because even in the United States, many women cannot afford feminine hygiene products. Even in developed countries, this lack of resources affects many women. In addition to being inexpensive, reusable pads are so much better for the environment. The global connection my project has is that it gives access to pads for girls who otherwise would have to miss out on their education. The pads can even be made from old clothes and other recycled materials, reducing the price and eliminating the waste created by disposable pads.
What did you learn about yourself?
Through this project, I have learned how to lead others and delegate tasks in a team. I have also learned the importance of self advocating. This project was a little controversial, especially in developing countries, because of the topic of menstruation. I found that I would often have to advocate for the project and convince cynics to keep the project going.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
This project will continue to impact me in the future because I believe it has helped me become more confident. As I continue my education in the STEM field, where there are fewer women, I feel like I will be ready to take on any challenge that comes my way! I have a deep sense of accomplishment and am looking forward to taking on more challenges that will have wider impact.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because I used skills that I had learned in previous Journeys and my Silver Award to reach a larger number of people and increase my impact. I feel like the Gold Award has shaped me as a girl and given me a lot more confidence that I otherwise would not have gained.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
My Gold Award helped me become a risk-taker because it pushed me outside my comfort zone. The biggest risk I took was basing my project in other countries: India and Kenya. This was risky because it was difficult to communicate with the directors and the girls directly due to the time zone differences. Another risk was that the topic because it is largely controversial and highly stigmatized, especially in developing countries. I went into this project not knowing exactly what the reaction would be, but I still went ahead with it. In the future I will have the self confidence and the ability to take risks and go for what I believe in – even if I might fail or it is not easy. I faced a lot of obstacles throughout the project, but I believe this project has allowed me to face it gracefully.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.