Project head(s): Brooke Cohen, Ran McClean
School(s): UWCSEA East Campus
GEP, short for Generation. Education. Period., is a group acting in the UWCSEA East campus community and rural Nepal. Currently, it has 2 co-chairs: Brooke Cohen and Ran McClean. Its focus is on 3 areas: Reducing menstrual stigma, combatting period poverty (women and girls not having access to hygienic and effective menstrual products), and reducing menstrual waste. Therefore it is both a social and environmental enterprise.
It was started 6 years ago, through a class project in which students were encouraged to create a new service school to operate in UWCSEA East. The teacher told the students about the issue of period poverty, and thus some of them started a service group that would sew reusable pads for women who need them in the school’s design and technology workshops. However, these pads took months to sew and were of low quality. Thus the group hired a group of women in Cambodia who were associated with Green Umbrella NGO. This meant that GEP could focus on fundraising while the production and distribution of the pads were done by local people, supporting the local economy. However, after a few years of doing this, the people in GEP realized that the women in Cambodia felt uncomfortable washing and drying these pads, which they had to do in public. The group went back to the investigation stage for six months and eventually found a new menstrual product to distribute: menstrual cups.
Menstrual cups are made of flexible silicone and can get used for up to 10 years, so use far less water, energy, and plastic waste than ten year’s worth of disposable products. GEP sells them in the school’s shop with a buy-one-give-one model, meaning when a community member buys one cup, that pays for another menstrual cup to be sent to Empowering Women of Nepal NGO. So far, GEP has sold over 40 cups, meaning that 40 women in Nepal will be able to have a more dignified period for ten years. GEP also educates members of the school community and women in Nepal about renewable menstrual products, how to use them, and their benefits. This has raised awareness of the existence of menstrual cups among the community significantly. Moving forward, it plans to expand awareness of periods among the primary school students by developing their puberty units in school with more awareness about menstruation and how it works. Once the pandemic restrictions lift, it also plans to conduct workshops for girls in the school boarding house and competitive swimming teams. Also, it hopes to increase collaboration with UWC Dover, and possibly with other schools.
Contact: email@example.com (Ran McClean, co-chair)