On December 9th, Maddie Chera’s Women in Developing Countries course (ANTH-E391/WGS-W302) hosted Party with a Purpose in conjunction with Malawi Matters and the Schurz Library. The event was co-sponsored by the Anthropology Club, Black Student Union, Feminist Student Union, International Student Organization, Student Government Association, and Sustainability Club.
Malawi Matters is a local non-profit that focuses on education around health issues in Malawi. In addition to providing HIV and AIDS education, the organization runs the Equipping Women/Empowering Girls program. One of the goals of this program is to dismantle barriers that keep girls from attending schools. One of those barriers—the lack of feminine hygiene products—was the motivation behind Party with a Purpose. Ms. Chera explained, “The main purpose of our party is to help Malawi Matters cut and assemble reusable menstrual supplies for women and girls in Malawi, using flannel and other basic materials.”Over 80 students, faculty and staff, and community members created nearly 300 pads for girls in Malawi, preventing them from missing school and falling behind in their studies. The founder of Malawi Matters, Phyllis Wezeman, commented on the benefit of this event: “When the girls in Malawi receive these handmade-with-love gifts, it will not only help them with a basic human need for hygiene products, it will raise their confidence and self-esteem to develop into capable, educated young women who will impact their fellow students, families, and communities.” The IU South Bend and community volunteers who created the pads also gained an education. According to Ms. Wezeman, Party with a Purpose “raised awareness of the issue of keeping girls in school with everyone who came. It’s amazing that so many people coming together to cut, pin, and sew fabric and also talk about the reasons for school dropout and early marriage in developing countries.”