I am a Modern History graduate from Cambridgeshire, UK. I have long been passionate about women and girls' rights, a passion increasingly shaped in the context of recent socio-political events. Over the past few years, I have been working in various ways to further this cause: from delivering a presentation on gender equality to over 150 students, to co-founding the social media campaign #BlurredLines to raise awareness about rape culture, to drafting reports and case studies on the abuse of women's rights for human rights advocacy NGOs, to attending the Girls' Education Forum in London in July 2016, to interning with a women in leadership NGO in Uganda for 6 weeks. My objective whilst at Watson U is to shape a venture serving to increase access to sanitation products for school-age girls in developing countries.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Protect your courage
From working with grassroots organisations all the way to NGOs advocating at the highest international levels, the issue of menstruation has come up as a primary factor inhibiting many girls from receiving an education for three main reasons. Firstly, communities lack the resources to produce, market and buy sanitary products. Secondly, schools lack the necessary infrastructure and facilities that would allow girls to address their needs without inhibition – a vital component in order to ensure long-term impact on this issue. Thirdly and finally, in many regions female menstruation is shrouded in stigma which prevents open discussion of this natural process. Therefore, Sophia also seeks to address this issue by opening up pathways to discussion, largely through workshops educating not just girls but boys, parents, teachers and other community members about menstruation, as a way to tackle the taboo head on.
Sophia’s objective at Watson is to develop her knowledge on this issue and to connect with organisations and individuals already working in the field to discover what projects would help to drive forward the fight to remove menstruation as a barrier to girls’ education. Sophia also intends to explore the different approaches taken by various organisations working on this issue in order to identify best practices, with the objective of creating a network to make the overall system more efficient. Maintaining an awareness of the links between this particular problem and other issues such as environmental impact will also be prioritised, in order to prevent the creation of new problems as a result of solving others. Sophia hopes to continue her efforts by bringing the expertise she has gained to existing organisations, perhaps by working on a project to increase access to sanitation products in schools.