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Support Schoolgirls' Needs in Arusha, Tanzania

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This month I will be traveling to Arusha, Tanzania to volunteer as an English teacher for 8 weeks. As I was doing research on what classroom supplies to purchase prior to my departure, I learned that many girls were not even attending class because they did not have access to menstrual products. This has resulted in many girls skipping 4-7 days of school each month, which has significant long-term negative impacts on their academic performance. In addition to having limited access to these products, 71.6% of girls living on mainland Tanzania have inadequate knowledge of menstrual health and hygiene and many of them resort to home-made substitutes such as cardboard, rags, leaves and even pieces of mattresses to absorb blood. (UNICEF) To combat this issue, I have decided to raise money to fund menstrual products for the young women that I will be teaching.

A study done by UNICEF on schoolgirls in June 2020 found that there was a socio-cultural pattern in Tanzania of viewing menstruation as a curse. Participants stated that touching something during menstruation brings about negative consequences. For example, touching eggs would rot them and touching vegetables or crops would dry them. This, in turn, not only further promotes secrecy and stigma around periods, but also deepens the issue of gender inequality.

I immediately asked myself, what can I do to help these young girls build the confidence and comfort to come to class? While I cannot eliminate the shame and stigma around periods in Tanzania in 60 days, I can, however, attempt to reduce the impact of menstruation on girls’ academic performance, confidence and daily life by ensuring access to menstrual products.

Instead of purchasing popular American sanitary products and bringing them with me to Arusha, I have partnered with a regional grass-root organization– WomenChoice Industries– that reflects the local communities’ real needs and values. 

WomenChoice Industries
WomenChoice Industries is a micro-enterprise that empowers young women and girls from low resource settings in Tanzania by manufacturing and distributing low cost, affordable menstrual products. In addition to developing products that can be easily accessible to local Tanzanian girls and women, WomenChoice also employs and trains local women who have been out-of-school, stigmatized, or isolated in their community.

When I reached out to Lucy Odiwa, the CEO and co-founder of WomenChoice, to express my interest in partnering and fundraising for her organization, she was overwhelmed and at a loss of words. Lucy’s goal was to reach 1 million Tanzanian girls and women by 2020, but due to COVID-19, funding has been limited and her goal was not reached. Although the town that I will be teaching in is 7 hours away by bus from WomenChoice Industries, Lucy and I have organized a mode of shipment for the sanitary products. One pack of “Salama Pads” includes 5 reusable sanitary napkins, which can last a girl up to 3 years. I will distribute these at government-funded schools as well as host teaching sessions for the girls!

By donating you are supporting:
• Tanzanian girls and women in the workforce
• gender equality
• community development
• quality education
• economic growth
• sustainable consumption

Educated and empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty — please consider supporting them through donating.

of donations go directly to the local Tanzanian organization­– WomenChoice Industries
100% of products go directly to the schoolgirls of Arusha, Tanzania

Also check out Lucy's presentation at the Harvard Business School New Venture competition !


WomenChoice Industries website
Lucy Odiwa and Sharmin Kabir discuss period poverty 
• 2020: 2nd place in Harvard Business School New Venture Competition 
• 2018: Global Winner for “SDGs and Her” Competition for Women Micro-Entrepreneurs Helping to Achieve the SDGs

Vic’s book recommendations:
•  "The Moment of Lift " by Melinda Gates
•  “Factfulness : Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rowling 
•  “Invisible Women ” by Caroline Criado Perez

Movie recommendation:

“City of Joy” on Netflix 

More about me!
My name is Victoria Gnat and I am a 22 year old from Chicago, Illinois! This past May I graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Finance and Business Analytics. While I am pursuing a career in management consulting, service and humanitarianism  has always been a passion of mine. As a woman and first-generation American, I have learned the importance of supporting others and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves– especially those who are on the margins of society!



Lucy Odiwa presenting at local classrooms. 

WomenChoice Industries "Salama Pads" 

Behind the scenes at WomenChoice in Tanga, Tanzania


  • Kevin Kemmerer
    • $150 
    • 3 yrs
  • Jessica Bogacz
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
  • Zach S
    • $100 (Offline)
    • 3 yrs
  • Patrick Jacobs
    • $30 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $20 
    • 3 yrs


Victoria Gnat
Chicago, IL

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