Grace Ningejeje came to Dartmouth in 2017 through the YALI Mandela Program to work on a project on menstrual hygiene in her home country of Burundi, a country facing a tremendous degree of menstrual stigma combined with unusually high degrees of poverty and school dropout rates by girls. IMHER was developed to help Grace – and by extension, other innovators like her — to gather much of the foundational information usually needed to get started in this work, and that can help an organization to grow. In the meantime, Grace has been making considerable progress at home, with a new organization focused on education, disposable pad donations, and a newly published book for girls in her country about menstrual hygiene. But she is still trying to figure out how to produce commercially viable pads in a place where little disposable income exists for most families, and where the almost-never discussed challenges faced by girls do not tend to get ranked highly among other pressing family needs.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, is a core program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a program that empowers young leaders through several weeks of courses, leadership education, mentorship, and networking at American universities, including Dartmouth, culminating in a conference held in Washington, D.C. A number of YALI scholars have focused on projects related to menstrual hygiene. Young African leaders and innovators age 21-35 should consider applying to this program.