Project Everest


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Three reasons we are OBLIGATED to run female sanitation and how it came to be.

Posted by Andrew Vild (Admin) 5 months ago

I want to start this post by saying this project is an oversight. An oversight that we haven't run something like this a long time ago. The nature of this project coming into play is almost unintentional and that is the craziest thing about this. It shouldn't have been unintentional.

There is absolutely no question at all by anyone you speak to in the office, within our leadership cohort, or otherwise, as to the importance of a project like this. 

Biannually, we run a leadership training that is for those committed to pursuing the challenge and journey of leadership, of social enterprise and of going back to work in a space filled with inspirational, motivated, intelligent and wonderful people. This year, we trained 48 young Australians, Mexicans, British, Germans, Indians and countless other nationalities. This presented us with a wonderful problem, what project topics do we give them to work on over our training period? We had eight teams and we only really work in seven areas in our work overseas.

A few of our senior leaders thought up the option of using sanitation as project topic, the idea flew under the radar and it wasn't brought to my attention until it was too late to reverse the decision. I will be honest, I didn't see how we could apply social enterprise concepts to female sanitation. Reluctantly, the topic went ahead and over the week I saw one of the most incredible project ideas we've ever seen come through our training environment evolve into being. The team were so passionate, they treated the topic of menstruation, periods, reusable pads as they would anything else and blew everyone else away. 

I walked away from our leadership training inspired and determined that this is was something that we have an obligation to try and make happen. My plan that we would run it in India at the end of the year...

What especially motivated me was when I realised how significant this topic was in enabling girls and women to go to school, continue tertiary education, maintain a job and be respected ALL days of the month. How can we talk about social enterprise, impact, empowering communities and individuals if half of the population in India or Africa won't leave the house for roughly a week a month? 

Project Everest was hosting a Sydney University Business School Case Competition, the top three teams came to our office to present their work and their ideas on the major social issues in India. Last minute, one of the three teams pulled out and left two. The winning team had presented some amazing work on the importance of sanitation in India and the opportunities it looked to achieve through something as simple as ensuring women and girls could safely and confidently engage with the world during menstruation.


That was it, we had seen this topic pop up enough in the space of two weeks that it couldn't be ignored. With the support of our project development team and the women in the office, we wrote the initial brief and made space to run this project in Malawi this July. Record turn around time!

So, to the point of the post, the three reasons why it is our duty to ensure female hygiene and sanitation is a project focus at Project Everest:

1. Half the population in developing communities are made to feel like leaving the house 25% of the time is inappropriate or doesn't have the means to practically do so. This impacts girl's and women's ability to go to school, maintain a job and sets bad habits for the rest of their life. Could you imagine completing your university degree if you were absent every 4th week?

2. Women and girls often have no choice other than to rely on men to provide them with sanitation resources. This can result in limited access, over-reliance on males, unsafe sex, unwanted teen pregnancy and early marriage, affecting education and work opportunities.

3. 70% of reproductive diseases in females in the developing context are the result of poor sanitation practices due to costly or non-existent resources and little to no education of the importance of female hygiene. Women may resort to plastic, leaves, newspaper, rags or corn husks as a means to manage menstruation. 

Imagine reusable sanitation products, good for female health, the environment and ensuring equal opportunities for all. This isn't a novel idea, in fact, it exists. What we need is a scalable model. A model where women are employed to manufacture sanitation products, to be distributed by a semi-informal female network, allowing education, employment and empowerment. 


Want to know more? See our plan for starting this project here:

This post was edited on May 13, 2019 by Andrew Vild

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Comments (2)

Kathys Marina says... 3 months ago

Removed due to spam

mandi ken says... 3 months ago

removed due to spam. 

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