Entrepreneur provides girls with dignity and education Local woman leading change

2016-08-09 06:00
 Photo: supplied Sue Barnes of Subz Pants and Pads.

Photo: supplied Sue Barnes of Subz Pants and Pads.

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HILLCREST resident Sue Barnes, founder of Subz Pants and Pads and its non-profit extension, Project Dignity, was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International recently.

Barnes’ NPO was founded when she read about Unicef’s finding - that a tenth of school going teenage girls in Africa miss up to 25% of their education because of a lack of menstrual sanitary products - she developed a unique product that was both economically and environmentally-friendly.

“There are currently nine million girls between the ages of 13 and 19 in South Africa,” explained Barnes.

“Our aim is to ensure all girls have the adequate sanitary products, thereby reducing absenteeism and dropout rates at school, so that they can finish their education with dignity.”

For many poor families, most of the money that comes in goes towards food, and even for those who can afford sanitary pads, facilities at schools are often so in disrepair that there is nowhere to discard used sanitary pads, creating inconvenience for the young women.

Barnes designed a user-friendly, washable sanitary pad that clips onto a cotton panty with a lifespan of three to five years. Each sanitary pad has six layers, ensuring optimum retention which allows young girls to continue working at school without fear of embarrassment or hygiene concerns.

Project Dignity is the non-profit extension of Subz Pads and Panties, whereby individuals and companies sponsor packs for young girls in rural areas. To date, Barnes and her team have distributed some 50 000 packs to school going girls over the past six years.

“It’s incredible to know that we are making such a huge difference to their lives by supplying such a basic necessity,” she explained. “Their education is the key to their future, as well as to the success of both themselves and our country.”

Recipients of Project Dignity are selected by the funder who chooses which school or community to support. Packs are then bought, in one of two sizes, with two pricing options. The R150 packs contain two panties and six washable pads, while the R220 packs contain three panties and nine washable pads. Barnes and her team work throughout the country, attempting to meet the needs of so many schools on the list. Schools can also be supported through the MySchool Card programme.

Project Dignity and Barnes herself have received a number of awards for the incredible work being done including the runner-up Elle International Award, Clarins Most Dynamic Woman Award, the SAB Social Innovation Award, Greenovation and Redcap Awards, among others.

Anyone wanting to get involved and contribute towards this worthwhile initiative can visit the websitewww.subzpads.co.za

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