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SI Barnstaple’s Project Knickers for Knowledge


Soroptimist International of Barnstaple has started a new initiative which links with our international goals to improve the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.

Our project ‘Knickers for Knowledge’ girls right to education in Africa,map will involve partnership working with our friendship link club Soroptimist International of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

According to all available evidence, high school attendance in sub Saharan Africa is as low as 25% in some of the poor rural areas, with girls particularly marginalized. One of the key issues is the lack of sanitary wear, poor sanitation facilities and lack of water for hand washing. A girl absent from school due to menstruation could lose 24 weeks out of a possible 144 weeks of learning over a 4 year period.

Following discussion with the Bulawayo club, financial support seems the most appropriate solution. We are asking for donations of clean clothing, textiles, bedding, and leather goods, belts and handbags, which we can sell by kilo weight. A monetary donation of £8 will provide sanitary protection to keep one pubescent girl in full time education for a year.

The club is in the process of having leaflets printed which can be distributed to other North Devon organizations including the Girl Guides and we are in the process of developing a website and have a copyright logo and domain names for the project. Recently, club members were interviewed on BBC Radio Devon’s John Govier Show where Knickers and Human Trafficking were the topics of the morning.

All the money raised will go direct to the Bulawayo club who will purchase sanitary protection locally and distribute to those rural schools in most need.