Winnifred Selby was just 15 years old when she founded the EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative. Its goal? To successfully engage communities, the government and school children, especially girls from deprived communities in Ghana, to create a sustainable platform to improve access to quality education without any restrictions. She funds this initiative through profits generated from her bamboo bicycle company and support from her partners.
Her initiative provides brand new shoes and educational supplies to needy school children from deprived communities in Ghana as well as menstrual pads for girls in their puberty to curb the high rates of menstruation-related absenteeism. There is increase in school enrollment and retention among the beneficiaries with great aspiration and opportunities for success.
Menstrual Pads Project
A study conducted by Oxford University Professor Linda Scott (Ghana, 2010) indicated that providing free sanitary pads to secondary school girls caused a sharp drop in absenteeism and increased participation in household chores and socializing. The Menstrual Pads for Dignity Project seeks to provide free disposable menstrual products for needy girls in the most deprived districts in Ghana in order to curb the high rates of menstruation-related absenteeism among school-aged girls. Additionally, the initiative provides hygiene, reproductive, and financial education for the girls it serves. This project aligns closely with the Millennium Development Goals MDG 3 (gender equality) and keeping girls in school (MDG 2).
Thousands school-aged girls in Ghana miss up to 30-50 days of school per year simply because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads when they menstruate.
As a result of their inability to afford proper menstrual products, many girls have no choice but to rely on crude, improvised materials, such as scraps of old clothing, wads of toilet paper, or newspaper to absorb their menstrual flow, which puts them at risk for infections. In the most severe cases, girls resort to using corn-cobs or mud, or allow themselves to be exploited out of desperation for supplies.
Bright Generation Community Foundation created the Menstrual Pads For Dignity Initiative in order to provide a multifaceted solution to this problem. In addition to providing girls with sanitary pads and education on related topics, Bright Generation’s long-term goal is to produce sanitary pads domestically. The creation of a factory in Ghana would not only make the pads less expensive, it would also provide jobs in local communities.
Happy Feet Initiative
The Happy Feet Initiative complements the government of Ghana's free school feeding and free uniforms program by providing brand new shoes and other educational supplies such as bags, books, calculators to needy school children in deprived communities to increase school enrollment and encourage children who are out of school to be in school. The HFI integrates deworming where beneficiaries are treated for soil-transmitted worm infestation which causes a host of serious health problems and often prevents children from attending school or being able to concentrate while in class. Since the project’s inception just about five years ago, over 10,000 school children have benefited.
Ghana Girls College Scholarship
Working in partnership with private universities in Ghana, this scholarships scheme aims at offering scholarships to brilliant but needy high school girls who would ordinarily not be able to afford the cost of tertiary education. It is propose that each participating private university offer a tuition free scholarships each year to one girl whiles the organization raise funds to support their books,accommodation,and other associated costs in attending college.
Call to action
Winnifred Selby saw a part of her world that needed changing and she changed it. Today, because of her vision, thousands of children are attending school and moving toward a brighter future. If you would like to support the EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative you can email them here. To donate visit the World of Children Award donation page for EPF Educational Empowerment.