HILDEGARD Titus first got the idea to provide sanitary pads to Namibian girls after reading an article about local children missing school due to period poverty.
Five years later, having founded the Power Pad Girls – an organisation that has donated reusable pad kits to 257 girls, provided sexual reproductive health workshops to various schools and raised around N$60 000 to pro-vide sanitary towels to girls across the country – Titus’ efforts have been recognised with a Commonwealth Points of Light Award.Titus was nominated by the British High Commission in Windhoek for her work in sexual and reproductive health rights. The daily Points of Light awards honour outstanding individual volunteers who are making a change in their community.
“After some time some life skills teachers and principals around the country started contacting us saying their pupils needed pads and sometimes teachers had to buy pads for pupils from their own resources because they (pupils) were in such dire straits,” says Titus.
“Our biggest goal is to lobby the govrnment to distribute free reusable pads to each school girl in Namibia, because something as natural as menstruation should not be the reason why someone misses school, or because they can’t afford menstrual products.”
Describing Power Pad Girls as a di-verse group of intersectional feminists advocating free menstrual products and inclusive sexual and reproductive education for Namibian schoolchil-dren, Titus also aims to measure the effect period poverty has on children and their education through research.
“We also want to destigmatise men-struation in Namibia because talking about it is still taboo in some of our cultures. There are a lot of myths and misinformation about it. In some cases, people believe that someone who is menstruating should not cook food because they will spoil it or they shouldn’t milk a cow because it will spoil the milk,” says Titus, who is currently working on an educational publication to be distributed all over the country in different languages.
“Menstruation isn’t a “woman thing”, it is a human thing. It is a natural process as simple as breathing or eating.
The more we talk about it and the more educated we are about it, the less of an issue it will become.”
Humbled to have been chosen for the Points of Light Award and grate-ful to the British High Commission in Windhoek for the nomination as well as the fellow Power Pad Girls without whom none of the organisation’s work would be possible, Titus expressed gratitude to everyone who has donated and supported the initiative.
“I’m really honoured to have been chosen for this award, and being able to represent Namibia with the volunteers awarded across the Commonwealth.
I think when you often do something, you don ‘t really take the time to step back and appreciate the impact your work has.
It’s really humbling to be recognised for it,” she says.
“Anyone and everyone can pay it forward. May we all continue to do our parts in our communities to create a just, equal, and bountiful society for us all.”