Empower Women in Africa, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides economic and educational opportunities to women and girls in rural Africa with a focus on menstrual hygiene management in Namibia.
Education is the key to overcoming the poverty and gender inequity that many individuals are born into in the developing world. By working locally to support girls in their education and women in securing a job, communities will be transformed and lives will be changed.
Lori Schippers, the founder of Empower Women in Africa, Inc. (EWA), was a Peace Corps volunteer math teacher in Andara, Namibia from January 2009 until December 2010. In many Bantu languages spoken in southern Africa, “Ewa” is a common greeting used in passing, in parting, or amongst friends meaning, “Everything’s fine,” or even “See you later.”
Through the relationships Lori formed and the trust she earned from her primary school students, she learned about the incredible weight every girl carries with her as she grows up in poverty. In childhood, she shares all of the household chores with her sisters, if she has any. These include fetching water from a river or borehole, near or far, washing clothes in a river so she doesn’t have to lug the water home first, collecting firewood at ever increasing distances because it’s being used up close to home, cooking on an open fire for her family, washing the plates after dinner, all while she is trying to maintain her studies and find time to complete her homework. She must struggle to find enough money to cover her school fees and hope that if she has brothers, her unemployed parents will be able to come up with enough money for her brothers and herself. She must find some way to get a dollar or two to buy a pen or pencil, hardly ever having enough money for both. She must search for menstrual pads (and if she can’t find any, depend on toilet paper, newspaper, old rags or cloth) to use each month once she reaches puberty, or face the reality of missing school every time she’s menstruating and getting behind in her subjects, failing, or even dropping out.
Lori was able to obtain a donation of 1364 reusable cloth pads for Andara Combined School, Omuthitu Combined School and a teen clinic at Omaruru District Hospital. But a single donation wasn’t enough. She wanted to be able to help more girls stay in school, with one less obstacle to overcome. And she wanted to address the financial dependence on men that women face in much of the developing world.
Thus, Empower Women in Africa was born with a mission to keep girls growing up in poverty in school to alleviate the obstacles they face in life, as well as to work with women to develop small businesses making and selling reusable cloth menstrual pads – creating jobs for women and making a much needed product affordable and sold locally to girls who need them.
We are a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization as determined by the IRS, so every donation is tax deductible under the provisions of the United States Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)3. Click here to view a copy of our determination letter from the IRS.