Students involved in the ‘PadAid’ initiative, one of the school’s Global Issues Network (GIN) groups which have been working on sanitary poverty projects both in the school and in the wider community, have been awarded a Special Commendation Award for collaboration by the Global Social Leaders (GSL) organisation.
The group reached the semi-final of the Global Social Leaders competition in May 2022 and had their work showcased at the GSL Festival on 17 June. With 500 teams entering form 106 countries around the world, to reach this stage is a massive achievement for the students involved in PadAid.
To get to the semi-final, the group had to submit a two-page report and a short video on their school global issues network project, detailing their research into sanitary health and period poverty around the world, their fund-raising activities, the outcomes and impacts of their project, and the skills and learning they gained.
The need for affordable, accessible sanitary products, as well as the treatment of women during their period in certain parts of the world, is often overlooked when poverty and women’s empowerment is brought up.
In some parts of the world, women and young girls who menstruate are ostracized from basic activities, like eating certain foods, or socializing. The cultural shame attached to menstruation and a shortage of resources stop women in some countries from going to school and working every day.
Recognising that period poverty is also a widespread issue in Belgium, two year 12 students, Ava and Justina, organised the collection of sanitary products within the BSB community and donated them to homeless shelters in Brussels. Over 3,000 products have been collected to date.
“Period poverty is a pervasive issue, yet people rarely discuss it,” said Justina. “The reasons behind this lack of action stem from the stigma and shame of periods and the female reproductive system in general. This ignorance about menstruation has many damaging effects but, arguably most importantly, it prevents governmental action from being taken to resolve this urgent issue.”
Justina, along with her fellow students in the GIN group, went even further and began campaigning for free period products to be provided in the school bathrooms. This has since been approved and the plan is to use vending machines to distribute the products to students for free. Until the products are available in the vending machines, they are provided in baskets in Secondary School bathrooms. Procter and Gamble generously donated products for the trial run of this initiative. Their support is greatly appreciated by the whole student body.
The GIN group have also been working with a BSB parent who works at Proctor and Gamble to see how this initiative can be rolled out to other schools. The GIN group, with the help of Charlotte Lemaitre, the teacher who runs the group, has already reached out to the people responsible for the free period products in schools in Ghent and Aarschot – the two cities that provide period products for free in schools – and they have shared their expertise with the group. More about this project and can be found on the Global Social Leaders website here.
For more information on The British School of Brussels Global Issues Network (GIN) projects, please contact us