By Paola Velasco
At a January 10 press conference, The Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende – Midday presented its new “Girls Empowerment Program” focused on education and health for girls of menstrual age from San Miguel’s rural communities. This program is being carried out in collaboration with the Secretary of Education for the State of Guanajuato and the civil association «Niñas Sabias,” which has developed an educational manual that will be shared with fifth and sixth-grade girls from public schools. The project was presented by representatives of all the aforementioned bodies, who shared pertinent details about the program.
Teri Kavanah, a member of Rotary, commented on the importance of offering useful and effective information at this stage in the lives of young girls, many of whom lose self-esteem and opportunities by not understanding and accepting what it means to grow up. Rotary, represented by current president Lee Carter, has made an assessment to support this project, to which it will allocate around 200,000 pesos. All those involved have been working for more than six months to develop this program in a comprehensive, useful way, but above all, with considerable respect and empathy.
The educational director of the project is Erika Hernández, a certified teacher, who trained a group of 10 teachers to cover more schools and offer the best advice to girls in rural communities to empower themselves, complete their education, and proudly embrace all that being a woman implies. This aim is to reach 2,000 girls this year. The work material presented to the girls shares with them what is happening in their bodies in a friendly, easy-to-comprehend style, without guilt or taboos, and allows them to make informed decisions about their bodies and their lives.
Each girl will receive a menstrual control kit with washable, ecological, and reusable sanitary pads that will last three to four years.
The Guanajuato State Secretariat (SEG) joins the project to give it credibility with families and communities, with whom the coordination of the first stage will be carried out from January to April. The course consists of five modules: in the first, parents and siblings will be invited to find out about the topics that will be covered during the remaining four modules. The participation of the whole family is very important, not only for women but also parents and siblings, to understand and care for the girls at home.
The entire cost of the project is being supported by donations from local communities, Rotary clubs in San Miguel, the U.S., and Canada, as well as the Rotary Foundation. For more information, visit their networks www.RotarySMAMidday.org and choose the Girls Empowerment Project option.