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READY project helps tackle period poverty in Zambia

Martina Lastikova

The highlight of this experience was to be able to work with incredible and resilient women in Mayukwayukwa, Zambia on my project to develop reusable sanitary pads.

Martina, Undergraduate

Sociology (BSc)

From Slovakia

Tell us a bit about your career journey so far

During the first year of my Sociology degree, I got involved with the PDC's READY programme. This experience equipped me with all kinds of transferable skills by taking part in a design challenge to make a positive impact on the community in a resettlement area in Mayukwayukwa, Zambia.

Finding that a lack of sanitary products in the area resulted in many girls and women missing out on school and work during their period, my team focused on creating an innovative solution to tackle menstrual absenteeism in this settlement. We worked to introduce the concept of reusable sanitary napkins which would also help women generate sustainable livelihoods.

The following year, I rejoined READY as a programme facilitator, sharing with new students the skills and strategies I had learnt, such as situational analysis, problem trees, objective trees and risk assessment analysis. This helped to prepare the students for their final presentation to the panel of external judges and stakeholders.

Since then, I have continued to pursue my project, travelling to Zambia in June 2019 for further research and development. This resulted in the final presentation at the United Nation’s building in Lusaka, Zambia in front of the panel of stakeholders including the United Nations Development Programme and the Department for International Development.

What have been the highlights of this experience?

The highlight of this experience was to be able to work with incredible and resilient women in Mayukwayukwa, Zambia on my project to develop reusable sanitary pads. Their strength and passion for life has pushed me even further to continue my project and campaign for period poverty. I believe that the READY programme can help create real improvements and I have seen how much of an impact it has had on people in Zambia. 

What advice would you give to students or recent graduates wanting to work in a similar area?

I would advise students to be patient with themselves and also to think outside the box. I believe that having a vision bigger than yourself and the intention to help other people is always a way forward. If you're thinking of working in the international development sector or civil service, find the cause that interests you, then do some research and network. In this digital age, there are so many great ways to connect to organisations and attend events. You never know who you will meet!

 #IamBrunel