The Wise Why

Episode #61

Episode #061

#Ep 61 Football Without Borders, Kenya Talk Girls Sanitation and Period Pants

by | 30 Jun,2023

About This Episode

In this episode of The Wise Why, Kirsty van den Bulk is talking about the Importance of Sanitation for Women in Football Kenya with Lisa Griffiths and her guest, George Osoya, who discuss their experiences and insights into empowering women through sports and improving menstrual hygiene management. Their guest is Kirsty van den Bulk, who shares insights into Football Without Borders Kenya. They discuss Lissa’s background as the Director of Supporting Girls’ Football and George’s mission as the Director of Football Without Borders in Kenya, which focuses on using sports to empower the youth for community development, including agribusiness and sanitation improvements.

George also talks about his Period Pants Initiative, an innovative approach that addresses menstruation challenges faced by girls. He shares his journey from misconceptions about women to becoming a staunch advocate for female empowerment. The initiative has increased school attendance among girls, improved performance, enhanced health education, and debunked myths around menstruation within the local communities.

Lissa also discusses the urgent need for better sanitary facilities at schools she visited with George. She is raising funds to build proper sanitation blocks to benefit students’ health and educational opportunities. The discussion includes insights into the importance of male allies like George in breaking down gender barriers, the significance of sustainable solutions like reusable period pants over temporary fixes such as disposable pads, and the challenges faced due to inadequate sanitation facilities leading to absenteeism at schools, mainly due to menstrual health issues.

Listeners are encouraged to support initiatives like the ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably? The campaign linked with the Women’s World Cup aimed to rebuild safe sanitation blocks at Kenyan schools. Donations can make a substantial difference in maintaining hygiene standards and keeping girls comfortably attending school during their periods.

Episode #61 : Full Transcription
Kirsty van den Bulk
Hello and welcome to a super special Wise Why. This morning I am joined by a really good friend, Lisa Griffiths, who I’ve known for a number of years and she has brought George from Football Without Borders in Kenya. And so we are going to talk about period pants. We are gonna talk about empowering women. And we are going to talk about how you can help, support and improve sanitation for these girls. But as usual, the wise why it is not about me, it is all about my guests, particularly today it is about my guest, Alyssa. I’m gonna come to you first, then I’m gonna come to George. Please introduce yourselves.

Lissa Griffiths
Hi, I’m Lisa Griffiths and I am the director of supporting US football and I am a female youth football advisor and advocate and connected with George on LinkedIn and was inspired by the work he did. With girls within his community and I’ve just come back. From Kenya, where I visited his projects.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Awesome. We’ll come on to that in a bit more and also about how you are and why actually you’re so keen on supporting women and the particular girls in football. But George, your story is, is powerful. I mean, I don’t know many men who would go out there and period pants. So could you explain a little bit about where you come from? A bit about why and your experience with football and then why you got into period in hand that would. Be really helpful.

George Osoya
Thank you so much. I have run. My names are Georgia soya. I’m from Kenya. I’m the director of Football Kenya football that borders Kenya. We do sports to empower youths. You know, to bring youths together, to mobilise them, then after that we engage them into different activities that we are running in the community. All the activities that we are doing goes with what the Community are in need of. So we look on the area where these people are in need of like the Agri business. That is the main part that we are focused on so that we can bring the the. They can bring poverty out like they can have food security. You know, we can do what we call. The hygiene management through through through food security if, because if they have good food, they have good health, that is what we normally say, so it is readily available material which is land. So the only thing that would well that borders is giving them this knowledge so that they can do they add the business in a good way. So that can improve that. So with girls, you know, everything that is done in the community. Always inspire people, but in a different way. So it depends with how it inspires you. Like me, I’m I’m I’m being inspired with empowering women because I want to feel what women are feeling. That is when we will know what women are doing in the Community, how you can live with them, how you can educate them, how you can give them some. Of the important ideas they need to move on. If you you are not part of them, then you will not feel the pain that they’re going through. So that is what in part inspired me so much. In 2012 I went to wonder in our leadership. Problem and I got the skills on how I can interact with women, because by then I was young and I was trying to say, like women are not supposed to be. These women are not supposed to do that. So again, I got the. The influence to apply for the United Nation programme in Sweden. I went there and I was inspired with football the first time whereby they’re dealing purely with women. I got the, the, the, the influence on how I can interact with men also there because they enlighten me. They told me what I should be doing. Women and how I should be doing a lot of things with their ministration circle, you know? So in 2016, I got the first course with them on women empowerment. Then 2017, I said yes, I want to do this. Yes. It was more of influence. And I was educated on how I can do these things. Women in the community. So I started feel like. I’m a woman, you know, though I didn’t have breasts, so it was like, yes, I want to hold it. I want to know how women are doing. So I started a programme our our female empowerment sports educating women and and hygiene management, you know, water, sanitation and hygiene. Health. I I wanted to cover. Everything productive know the circle, how they feel, the kind of programmes you know, the regular, the regular, something like that. So in 2019. The MIT students from USA came on and I said I want to take this course and that is when I started learning more about the productive and how you can make use of the. Then I got more ideas and started implementing it in. Put them back with us. So I gathered girls and then we start hand stitching, you know, so we add the polythene Peppers, we add the at the bathroom. No. So it becomes more complicated because when we were doing this, I saw like, there’s still a lot of studies. I like doing research by myself, you know, not reading the research. I like doing the research by myself. So I want to each and every person I wanted to ask more about how they feel about this disable success that we are doing. And then they said, oh, it’s still uncle, you know, they’re they’re still leakage onto this use of the science that that we are doing. Then I said I need to advance. To you. So I started asking friends if they can donate swim machine. Then I studied improving myself to have Mark touch. I I think you know the making touch where the one that you put in the in the beds for for our kids not to pay you know to pay in our beds. So I I said using my. Making touch so that at least. We can prevent the leakage of blood because it is dangerous that you know, they feel like if this is happening to them, they feel shy, they feel shame, but they don’t know the importance of of ministration. Why is it important for them? They are fatal at that point. So they should know that it is important for them to have the administration. For them, if they are not experiencing it, that it is a bigger challenge to them, so they still feel proud of it. So I started gathering information from different people in the community. Mostly I want I wanted to work with elders so that I. You know how to break the needs and the beliefs that they have in the community, and I found myself interacting and say that God should not cook when the when the administration that should not do this. And I ask them, no, we are now delegation, you know that was back then in, in, in maybe 2019 the 20/20/20. 20/10/20 something like that, you know, or maybe centuries we should not bring it in 2023 or 2024 or something like that. So I told them I want to come up with something that will have to the community and then these people should be the followers. They should not be leaders, you know. It is not important for them to be listened. They should follow what others are doing, then implement whatever they they feel they can. Do so I study. Influenced men as well to get involved into this and that is when we interact with different schools. Or to find the young teenage who are feeling that this is not right, so that they we can educate them. To know more. About what female are going through and then female as well should. Know what men? Are going through so these are inter interchange programme whereby they need to learn from each other. I saw it like it’s a practical women are. Playing football football now for women, you see? Prove it. Why should we not learn more about women and give them the first priority on what they should be doing? So that is how how ours influence. And I found someone called Lacy. You know, Lisa, she was. So much into me and doing things together I really enjoyed so much and I feel like yes, Lisa is doing something that I need to do, like sports for girls. And I said yes, this is what we need to do. The world should know that the importance of sports for girls sports supporting girls through football. You know, it was. It was like a miracle to me. And I said, listen, can we do this together? And then Liz came over. So the programme how we do it because we are each and every problem that we are doing in the Community, we must implement life skills training so that we are not focused on playing football for competitive. Something like that. We are focused on educating young girls and young boys in the community so each and every problem that we’re doing, you must take like 10 minutes to educate them on what they should be learning you. So through that we we have what we call take for a better life concept whereby it has been driven to give to to to give the the, the, the, the, the training so easy for this gas full and and Lisa went through this he saw the scissors how we do the programming, the classes, how we take them. Out of class, then to the field, then out of field. Then we have the discussion you know whereby now they get the clear information and that is how we break the needs and the beliefs in the Community. So Lisa, thank you so much for opening up and coming to join us. Thank you.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So, Lisa, I’m wondering if you could explain what. It was like. To arrive in Kenya because when I knew you, you were very much talking about what it was like for girls on the the, you know, menstruating, trying to do sport. Now, I was an ex dancer, and I know what it was like for me to try and dance on those days. So I know that you were really campaigning about it, so I’m wondering if you can explain what it was like with your experience to arrive in Kenya and to see everything with fresh air.

Lissa Griffiths
Well, the my my focus on. Period specifically really began with my own experience and my daughters experience of accessing education, accessing sport. And I carried out my individual research and I felt that attitudes to periods warriors hadn’t changed. Since you know haven’t changed really, there’s been so much research that’s been carried out in regards to what needs to be done. To remove barriers, to remove stigma, to remove, you know, myths. But. Nothing. It hasn’t really moved forward. So when you know, for instance, you know, boys and girls will still talk separately with in the UK generally about menstruation. So when I learned more about what George was doing. I thought that this was actually really sort of. Something special, you know, and something that should be. Carried out worldwide, you know it’s it’s everybody’s responsibility. And we need. Male allies on board like George to to break down to help breakdown those. Those myths and those barriers, so when I went to Kenya and when I went, I I went to the the football Without Borders tournament, they’ve got football tournament going on well George doesn’t football Without Borders. Doesn’t tend to. Promote competition. They use it as a tool to engage. Young people. So Georgia’s philosophy is that. You know through. Football. You gain life skills and then that then builds to educational programmes so. Went I saw boys and girls playing together, mixed teams, girls and boys. Rangers playing. I saw girls watching, boys cheering them on. I saw boys supporting wet girls and it was how I feel it. Always. You know it the the there was no sort of divide between boys and girls. It was just. Mixed and it was accepted. And I know George has worked really hard to break those barriers down. So you know that that’s that’s amazing. It was amazing to see it’s. Like this is just like this. Amazing. You know, this is how it should be. This is like benchmark really for football. And then went into the. Into the classroom areas where they did the workshops. And I was just so impressed with how, how engaged the children were, the young people were how open the roles were to talk about their experiences, how open. George and his team because George. Has got several many volunteers that work with him as. Well, who are? Incredible. And and it wasn’t just sort of menstruation. It was, you know, and and making. The period pants. Which are like amazing, amazing, you know, and you know. Other things like gender based violence, removing sort of stereotypes, he does all aspects of like sexual health, you know, it it it. It’s a very intense. Programme, but wide as well. It’s life, so it’s teaching life skills in addition to the agricultural things that that the the projects which also teach employability skills. So yeah, so you know, I was really pleasantly surprised. I went with no. I don’t think I won’t be any prejudgment but. I I think everybody make makes a a judgement about how or what they might experience, but I felt that I’d come to this. Yeah, it was just. Something that was. Beyond what I’d. Ever experienced in terms of gender equality?

Kirsty van den Bulk
Thank you. It’s really, really powerful and I know that you’re now desperately. You’re not desperate. That’s that’s not not fair. But you are raising money right now for a sanitation block. Is that correct?

Lissa Griffiths
That’s right. Yeah. One of the schools George took me to. The children are are an absolute testament to the, to the, to the teachers. The teachers are amazing. It showed us round and it was it. It had such a lovely such a lovely feel to it, great environment, beautiful surroundings, excellent teachers, excellent projects, George. Also delivers his projects there and then I was being shown Rand and I saw a like. It was like. A shed in in the distance and. I asked what it was and the the headteacher was really reluctant to show me. I think he felt a little bit embarrassed, but I said I want to see it because this is something that maybe I could I could quite easily change, you know, change or and and I went to see it and. Yeah, it was just. Health and safety with you know the the the corrugated iron this now the you know that it was just like a temporary and the and the headteachers explained to me and said that it it’s a temporary structure because they they did receive a grant from the local. Government to provide new toilets, but the toilet block water was actually built in a floodplain, so the foundations you know it it. Obviously it collapsed within. Months because you know the rain season in Kenya. Because of the waters going off the dry land, it just pulls and. Then you know it just soaks through. So so any of the phone, so the foundations crumbled. So the school. Contacted the contractors, the contractors didn’t accept responsibility and the government won’t provide any more. Money because in their mind they have paid and. That that is. The responsibility of the contractors, so impact of not having appropriate sanitation. In Kenya. You have pay for healthcare and education. So a lot. Of these, most of the parents are paying for girls to practise. If you think about pre-existing sort of old fashioned beliefs, or about a woman, a woman’s purpose or a woman’s place as well, that’s an additional sort of barrier then. They stand in the toilet. The standard of the sanitation causes disease. Which causes children to be off school. And then also. When periods start. They they really can’t, sort of. You know, coping that sort of environment really. So already already there are so there are there are so many existing barriers. For girls that. Access education in sport and then on top of that you have the inadequate sanitation. Which which causes problems. In itself, you know and and so. I felt that. We needed to do something. I I really felt that it was something that I. Could sort of really focus. On and and work with. So I developed a. Can I plug my?

Kirsty van den Bulk
Because you can.

Lissa Griffiths
A campaign for which will coincide with the with the Women’s World Cup. And it’s for. It’s for. Pubs and hospitality, it and the hospitality industry to place one of my posters on the. Back of the. Toilet door. And I called it while you sitting comfortably because I think it relates really well. Also, I suggested that you know while. While women or men are in pubs watching the watching the women’s football that maybe they would like to donate their next drink to. Help the help support the rebuild of. The sanitation block. So you can download. That poster on your website which is below. So yeah, so so hopefully we will be able to go and help to you know increase the amount, the increase, increase the number of girls in education. And and name the benefits the many benefits that George provides through football, yeah.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I want to come to do it for a minute, George.

George Osoya
I believe you not.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Only do you empower women? Not only do you educate men and the boys? And the girls? You’re bringing the community together, but I also believe you supply sewing machines. Is that correct?

George Osoya
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a very nice question because it’s gross wide, it’s it’s in place and and it’s bringing people together like now we are together, you know, sharing information. It’s very important. And then I think the most important thing is what you’re doing and then the way this was speaking, that is it. That is what we saw because you know everything that we are doing under your panties it. Is all about health, you. Know and then we are partnering with 25 schools now. If we are partnering investments growth now and then it is only football that borders, you know we want to bring people on board so that they can give bring out the skills that we are lacking, then it can again in light and bring the change and a lot of changes onto this and that is I think why list is very impressed with what. This is source. And what she is about to do, you know. In fact, we were, we were. We were not happy to bring listen to the lottery because it was for. Girls and the one that we get for girls collapse and we feel like, you know this very embarrassed, you know, so but please cut the interest that I want to see it. I want to see. How this looks like you know it is, it is passion. I think this is love for what you’re doing and this is what is driving me to do this. So the stream message that we are requesting always every time. We still have 919 showing machine. That’s why we are not doing all programmes. You know, in all the schools, the problems that we are doing that I’m sure that we are doing in all the 25 schools is every business and then we only do the landscape training just like please mentioned you know. So it means that we’ll actually machines and remember we are working with 200. Has 200 girls and maybe 50 boys, but we wanted to increase the number of boys. You know, so that is 250 participant in a school with one string machine. It becomes so difficult. But what I’m proud of is to give the information. If you deliver the information, you create awareness on what you fail. Like me, I’m failing it. I have the passion in doing it, so I always narrate my things and do according to what I should be doing. Anybody who is seeing the link rolling down there should definitely support what Liz is coming up with because I went back like 2 weeks ago. I I shared this with Liz and I was crying. I went to another school outside my county. And I saw this and I felt like, no, this is not good. When I’m speaking about empowering women. 14 year girls you know, are pregnant. They have children, yeah. It is too painful to see a child carrying a child and going to school with no water, no littering. How do they change their sanitary paths now? How do they do this? And then if we are working so hard to break the needs and the leaves, then we should increase the Earth’s facilities in this. That is, when these girls will feel like, yes, I need to change my *****. Your *****. I need to change my reusable scented pads after this during duration because now they sit with it. Until lunch time, you know, lunch by that is when they run to their homes. It is not health wise for them. It is not healthy. Even if you gossip, health, health, health, each and every time, it is not healthy for them. They are afraid of removing this and keep it somewhere, you know, because they don’t have these health facilities. They don’t have good latrine, good toilet. They they don’t have them. It is totally lacking. And when football that borders is coming up, we only train them on what? Isn’t it on again? How they need to watch these things, how they need to keep themselves. But if these schools doesn’t have these facilities then it is like you’re doing nothing. You’re not breaking the metal with it. And if anybody supporting what Lisa is doing then you will see the percentage of this gas increasing. Their performance as well as increased, I think we personally have seen this. I’ve seen the number of girls increasing from 10% to 70% in school. I normally go to school and check the register. You know how they normally come to school, how the their performance is in class. You find that this thing is really helping them and if we can put more effort and all that together, you know it is all about. Passion. It is all about what you feel. You don’t give because you want to give, but you give because it helps someone out. That is what I believe in, and if I came up as a man to discuss about women, it means that I’m feeling something about women and please encourage me so much so that he can this without women. I think we should. We are not there, you know. They carried us for nine months. They feel the pain and they continue feeling the pain of cramps. This is something that we should honour. This is something that all men around there, all men who are watching us, speaking out now they should learn what a woman sleeping close to him. You know he’s falling. So I think if they’re feeling what I’m feeling, then they should have passion. They should love what they want to do, so we still lack screen machine. Yes, I will say that, but we lack them giving us support. So thank you so much.

Kirsty van den Bulk
No, thank you so much for sharing your stories. Listen. Yes, of course. You you can’t. You don’t put your hand up. You think just speak through.

Lissa Griffiths
That’s what it’s about, because in the past organisations and charities have provided. Schools with disposable sanitary towels. Which meets the need temporarily and is not sustainable because sometimes in Kenya disposable ones are very expensive and it encourages as well because they are limited. Like George is saying, girls of are using them for an extended length of time, never using them. You know it’s it’s not good and it’s not good for the environment. For landfill, which? I know that, George. Is really passionate about with his agricultural work, and so I just wanted that out because I think it’s important that the reusable sanitary towels and reusable and and are actually. Supporting the environment, they are not giving girls false hope. They are actually something that they will be able. To wear and. Be able to pass once they’ve learned how to make them. They can then pass those skills on to generations. And onto the next generation. And then it becomes a sustainable solution. As opposed to. Something that is like a sticking plaster, basically something that’s all. Yeah, solves the problem initially, but then what happens when they? Leave school or what? Happens when they leave that organisation. You know, this actually promotes. Promotes, yeah, as I say, sustainability, sustainable management of of menstruation.

Kirsty van den Bulk
And and of course it helps so much more than that because it’s the emotional state as well, and that cannot ever be you. You can’t. There’s there’s not enough words to say. I mean, even as a woman in the UK, there have been points where I’ve had leakage and I’ve been shamed. I’ve been out and about. But I’m in the UK. And I can do something about it. I was still laughed at. I was ridiculed. Particularly when I was like 14 or 15 and I was embarrassed and shamed for a girl in Kenya, it’s far, far. Well, I’m gonna move to some of the comments cause we’ve had somebody say this is a fantastic topic. So thank you both of you for joining me this morning. Kevin has joined you said so proud of you guys and so he should be and he said. I’m so impressed with what I’m hearing and I love it, so if you can go into the comments at the end of this and. Comment on it. I will let you know if you’ve had any comments on YouTube. If you put your links everywhere, please, please, please. It’s such an important subject. Well invited, George and onto the wise one this morning. If you wanted to say goodbye and that will be it. Thank you.

Lissa Griffiths
Thank you. Thank you for having us, Bobby. Thank you for having me. Thank you.

00:21 The Wise Why
01:06 Lissa Griffiths
01:42 George Osaya
04:08 Expectations of Women
06:34 Macintosh Inspiration
09:47 Better Life Concept
12:52 Life Kills and Football
15:03 Gender Equality
17:32 Crumbling Schools
24:13 Chiden Carrying Childen
28:03 Disposable Sanitary Pads
29:56 Audience Questions
30:07 Close

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