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Roaring Women present ‘Half the Sky’

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By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

A Glenwood Springs nonprofit that helps school girls in Kenya, and an acclaimed documentary covering many of the same issues, meet in Carbondale with a screening of “Half the Sky” at the Crystal Theatre at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 19.
The film, based on Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name, shares stories of inspiring women around the world who are transforming their oppression into opportunity, empowerment and hope. Tickets are $20 and include a post-event reception at Kula Yoga, and entry into a raffle for a night at 
Avalanche Ranch, according to a press release.
Roaring Women of the Roaring Fork is sponsoring the evening as a benefit for For the Good Period, an 18 month old nonprofit dedicated to expanding opportunity for girls in the developing world. In less than two years, the organization has improved access to education for nearly 2,000 Kenyan girls.
“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” was filmed in Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somaliland and Vietnam. The Jan. 19 screening shares the first half of the documentary and illuminates the lives of women and girls living in extremely difficult circumstances — and fighting courageously to change them. The film features celebrities Meg Ryan, Diane Lane, America Ferrera, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde as they travel with Kristof to meet these women and listen to their stories of transformation.
Advance tickets are available at forthegoodperiod.org; click on “half-the-sky.” In the event of a sell-out, For the Good Period (4TGP) plans on an additional screening of “Half the Sky” at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House this spring. 

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For the Good Period
For the Good Period works with impoverished young women in rural Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya. An agricultural area in the semi-arid foothills east of Mount Kenya, Tharaka-Nithi is one-third the size of Garfield County and yet home to more than 365,000 people. Of those, thousands are school-age girls who have been unable to attend class regularly because of a simple need: access to affordable feminine care items.
“In this area, there is an acute lack of resources for menstrual hygiene,” said 4TGP founder Kayce Anderson. Historically, the young girls in this part of Kenya simply have not been going to class for approximately one week a month because their families cannot afford pads to help them get through the school day. This means that girls miss about a quarter of the school year — and that they have been falling behind in their studies or even dropping out.”
Anderson pointed out that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that millions of girls worldwide, and one in 10 in Sub Saharan Africa, drop out of school once they hit puberty due to simple lack of access to pads).
Anderson said that in its first two years, 4TGP has worked in 25 villages in Kenya. “We also work in the long term with these communities to address and transform more systemic barriers to girls’ educations.”

4TGP background
Kayce Anderson, Ph.D, was a research ecologist studying butterflies in the high Andes in Ecuador when she learned about the need for sanitary pads in Kenya and elsewhere and became impassioned to do something about it.
“About three years ago a neighbor asked if I would sew some reusable sanitary pads for adolescent girls in Kenya that were missing school because they didn’t have access to pads,” Anderson told The Sopris Sun. “This was a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I began to do research and learned that menstruation is a significant barrier for girls in school and women in the work place worldwide. We partnered with a cloth diaper company based out of Fort Collins (Thirsties) to produce pads. After trips to Kenya to distribute pads, it became apparent that pads are only one of many barriers to girls’ education. We have since become more involved in community development.”
For the Good Period has two guiding principals: The vision and work must be local led. The nonprofit partners with other organizations, and is not the leader; 4TGP also invests in human capacity to ensure that the work and ideas outlive its tenure in a community.
To that end, there are six other 4TGP staffers or volunteers, according to its website:
• Molly Secor-Turner, Ph.D. (programs director/board of directors member);
• Millicent Garama (a registered nurse with a MA in International Health from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland;
• Kate Lapides (communications/outreach and staff photographer);
• Kaitlin Schmitz (board of directors member with a MA in public health from North Dakota State University, now working on a Ph.D. in nursing at the University of Colorado);
• Sharon Secor (Kenya travel coordinator/board of directors member);
• Jordan Schultz (development director for the Summit Community Care Clinic and 4TGP board member).
Anderson told The Sun the For the Good Period’s funding comes entirely from individuals at the moment, and it’s also working with Club Rotario in Glenwood Springs on a Rotary Grant. “We hope to be in a good position to apply for more grants this year,” she said. “Most foundations require several years of (IRS) 990s (nonprofit income statements).”
When asked about For the Good Period’s plans, Anderson joked and said “How much time and space do I have” then said there are is an important mother-daughter pair that works with 4TGP: Sharon Secor and Molly Secor Turner, who were sewing hand-made sanitary pads when she first learned of the issue. Sharon has been working to establish dental clinics in Kenya and on health issues for more than 20 years. Molly (the daughter) is a professor of nursing at North Dakota State University, and has been doing research on adolescent health in Tharak-Nithi County, Kenya, for about seven years.
“We are currently refining our model in Tharaka-Nithi County, where we have connections and there is already a level of trust,” Anderson said. “We are also beginning to collect data (test scores, attendance, questionnaires on change of knowledge and behavior change) so that we better understand our impact. Once we have this information, we will expand geographically to other areas of need in Kenya and throughout Sub Saharan Africa. Our goal is to learn how to scale up while also maintaining local cultural relevance and sensitivity. The face of our organization in Kenya is Kenyan, and the work and change needs to be locally led wherever we expand.”

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Next steps
Who: Roaring Women of the Roaring Fork
What: Fund-raiser for For the Good Period; screening of “Half the Sky”
Where: The Crystal Theatre
When: 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 19
How much: $20


Published in The Sopris Sun on January 12, 2017. 

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