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From left: Miriam van Nie, Diamond Elam, Jeshua Bardoo, and Kareen Singh.
From left: Miriam van Nie, Diamond Elam, Jeshua Bardoo, and Kareen Singh.

Equal Rights Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. (ERAO SVG) visited the George Stephens Senior Secondary School in Colonarie recently to monitor the implementation of the organisation’s ongoing Menstrual Health Empowerment Project, funded by Canada.

Accompanied by Miriam van Nie, political counsellor at the High Commission of Canada to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the ERAO SVG team consisting of Jeshua Bardoo, Kareen Singh, and Diamond Elam, met with school administrators, and engaged some of the young women who participated in the project over the past year.

The George Stephens Secondary School is one of three secondary schools benefitting from the Menstrual Health Empowerment Project, supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Commenting on the visit, Deputy Principal, Shirnelle Thomas-Gunn said:

“We are very pleased with the assistance offered to our girls from ERAO SVG INC. They could have assisted elsewhere but chose to do so at George Stephens Senior Secondary. The girls are all benefiting from this project and have expressed their gratitude. We greatly appreciate this gesture and sincerely thank ERAO as we look forward to their continued support and generosity.”

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van Nie said Canada is exceptionally proud of the ongoing partnership with ERAO SVG Inc.

“In 2021, Canada committed to supporting the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in their recovery from the volcanic eruptions. We are pleased that the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives continues to reach those most impacted through small-scale, community-level initiatives.”

van Nie said that supporting menstrual health empowerment addresses cultural norms and practices that often hold young persons back from reaching their potential and helps to set them up for success.

The Menstrual Health Empowerment Project aims to ensure that Vincentian secondary school girls from low-income communities between the red and yellow zone areas affected by the La Soufriere volcanic eruption in 2021 have greater access to basic menstrual and hygiene products.

In addition, the project is highlighting the voices and menstrual experiences of teenagers and putting forward functional and sustainable recommendations for dealing with period poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

ERAO’s Menstrual Health Empowerment Project includes three distinct components:

1.     Outreach to three secondary schools and the distribution of dignity kits (boxes/packages of menstrual products including sanitary napkins and panty liners); three menstrual bins and associated cleaning items, and one storage facility for period products.

2.     Workshops to educate girls about their menstrual health.

3.     A survey and report on menstrual health to highlight the voices of teenagers who may experience period poverty.

ERAO SVG is a non-profit human rights organisation dedicated to promoting equality and non-discrimination in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with a specific focus on the rights of women, children, the LGBTQIA+ community, and persons living with mental and physical disabilities.