Africa Education Gender Health Institute Institute 2014 Metrics & Evaluation Talk Wellness

An Ingenious Way to Help Girls Stay in School

On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, more than 1,000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado,  for the culmination of the 2014 Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 11 ventures present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Here, in on of those talks, Unreasonable Institute fellow Rachel Starkey, CEO of Transformation Textiles, explains how her startup is using textile remnants to make low-cost underwear and menstrual pads to help keep girls in Sub-Saharan Africa in school. Access to these items can boost girls’ classroom attendance by 75 percent in some places.

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Unreasonable Institute

Unreasonable Institute

The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.

  • Glassborow

    I think this is a really powerful video, it’s awful to think even to this day people can still not get basic necessities, and to think this has such a knock on effect for girls and their education is pretty depressing. I hope this video becomes more viral and something more can be done – just making a small amount of essentials for girls in Kenya increased school attendance by 75%! Great video, thank you

  • Alex Prailes

    I think this is an awesome way to open peoples eyes on how others live their lives. Previously before this video I had no idea that this was an issue that girls had. It’s mind blowing that we could improve school attendance by 75% for something as small as this. I think this is something that not a lot of people know about, but I think that if it was brought to peoples attention it would be something many people would help support.

  • ReneeBinder

    This is an awesome video. I think people take so much for granted in society and this video really makes me realize how lucky I am. In my health class we also watched a ted talk about a gentleman who created something similar. It is amazing what an impact it can have.

  • SitaSantos

    I was really motivated by watching this video on Rachel Starkey’s garment company’s initiative to use her textile scraps to produce “underwear and menstrual pads to help keep girls in Sub-Saharan Africa in school.” She went on to explain how access to these items can boost girls’ classroom attendance by 75 percent in some places!” This initiative is sparking an idea in me to continue working with the scraps from my mother’s clothing factory in Bali Indonesia to create even more useful products. In 2012, during my gap year, I visited Bali for around one month and designed reusable bags and pencil cases made from the textile remnants of her factory to be used instead of plastic bags, which are causing a huge pollution problem on the island. The proceeds then supported the construction of a recycling and compost facility for the factory’s waste, which was built using sustainable bamboo and a recycled plastic roof tiling.

  • rewebster3

    I will always be in awe at how the most basic of needs that we take for granted in the United States is not a given in other countries; the statistics associated with not having clean undergarments to wear correlated with finishing school was jaw dropping. It makes me think more basic in regard to the needs of another country versus what I have and have had each and every day and wondering how and if I can make a difference in someone’s life.

  • Abby2017

    We are so blessed here in the U.S correct. We wouldn’t even think of something so small can make a huge difference and relate it to education. I think that it is great that they make the underwear and etc. for the girls and it will last them three years. That is amazing to me.

  • Anniep1023

    This video made me realize how blessed I am to be an American. I do not have to worry about having clean clothes and access to feminine products. These girls in these struggling countries deserve to have access to clean undergarments and feminine products. By having these items, they are able to go to school and succeed. Women and men around the world should be aware of this crisis so we can do our part to help these girls succeed in many aspects of their lives.

  • Jessica Mendoza

    Wow. Awesome presentation. The main thing that stuck out to me in this video was the picture that said,”Female Hygiene + Health Education= 75% increase attendance.” That is a outstanding number! It is crazy that simply providing the things for girls that they need for female hygiene, and providing them a little bit more information on it, can cause such an impact! Not only does the video give me home, but it also makes me feel lucky and blessed. I live in a place where things like this are so easily assessable. I have never heard of one girl dropping out of school because they don’t have the proper things they need for their period or other things. I am extremely luck to have these things, and would love to help something like this spread to help girls. This just shows that something so little can make such a great and huge impact. Truly awesome!

  • Jessica Mendoza

    I also agree that this video not only made me feel blessed, but it made me feel lucky as well. This is not something that I have ever had to worry about. When I first got my period, it was as simple as going to the store and getting the products that I need. I never realized how much of an impact these items have really had on my life. I was able to go to school, and I am still able to strive to succeed. I think that this should spread, and should be made aware to everyone around the world. It shows that something as little as providing the proper feminine products, can really make a huge change.

  • Jessica Mendoza

    We really are so blessed here in the US. This is not even something that we would think about having an impact on our lives. All of this is amazing to me too. It is crazy to me that the smallest initiative can make such a great and huge impact!

  • Jessica Mendoza

    It really is an awesome way to open people eyes as to how others live. I would have never thought, before this video, that feminine hygiene products have such a big impact on my life. The reason why I don’t realize that is because of how easy, and how available it is to get. I don’t see why people wouldn’t want to support this. This is amazing! It shows that something as little as providing female hygiene products to people that need it, can make a huge impact!

  • Sara Fuller

    It’s amazing how much school these girls are missing because of something they can’t control. I am very happy that this woman and others are reaching out to help these young ladies continue their education and be more comfortable.

  • purperoar21

    We as humans adapt to whatever circumstances given. While we adapt to a status of which we find neutral or mediocre, these girls would find it to be a luxury. Just as we find classes above us’s normalcy to be a luxury. However, we sit and envy celebrities and successful people who’s talent and hard work (in most cases) brought them their. We were born into what these girls see as luxury and did nothing to deserve all that we have access to. People in third world countries are so unbelievably content with what they have in terms of materialistic items. For them, unsatisfaction comes with the lack of crucial necessities like food and health care. Where we lack satisfaction for things that are unnecessary in the scheme of life. We were born into this life just as these girls did, with no say or no control. However what we can control is sharing our luxuries with them and extending a helping hand to them. Lastly spreading awareness as to why this is relevant to us. I had the chance to experience life in a third world country, I gained perspective that without that experience I would not feel as obligated to share the importance of this issue with others. Not everyone is going to witness this first hand and that we why spreading the word is so important.