Summer CSGC Grant Update: VIOLA: Championing Menstrual and Educational Equity for Young Girls

Over the past few summers, I had the privilege of joining a group of students on a service trip to Myanmar and northern Thailand, where we built sustainable houses for long-term refugees. During this time, I had meaningful conversations with girls my age at the camp and noticed an alarming lack of information and education about menstrual hygiene. Drawing from my previous research on the intersectionality between education and menstrual poverty, I decided to take action.

Collaborating with a fabrication lab in Seoul, South Korea, I set out to develop a solution: affordable and sustainable underwear that could also double as a menstrual pad. My goal was to provide a reusable alternative to traditional menstrual pads, ensuring that girls wouldn’t miss out on education due to a lack of feminine hygiene products. Using my summer grant, I partnered with a manufacturing corporation in Korea to produce 200 units of these underwear.

Inspired by the symbol of violets, which represent decency, I named my project “VIOLA” with the belief that access to feminine hygiene products should be a fundamental right. Recently, I returned from my trip to Myanmar, where I revisited refugee camps and women’s centers. There, I conducted educational sessions about the menstrual cycle, reproductive rights, and distributed the VIOLA products to menstruating women, hoping to empower and support them. My mission with VIOLA is to bring awareness and positive change, ensuring that every girl has access to proper menstrual hygiene products and the opportunity to pursue education without barriers.

-Lauren ’24