Last Sunday marked the culmination of partnerships with an unexpected collection of people who came together to support the education and reproductive health of school-aged girls in Kenya. The Oklahoma City Outlaws Roller Derby team (http://www.okcbankedtrackrollerderby.com/), and the 501st Legion (http://www.501st.com/), a Star Wars fan club and charity/volunteer organization, can together for PANTY WARS.
Panty Wars was a special roller derby bout dedicated to collecting panties and funds for school girls in Kenya. While many school girls receive sanitary pads through the Government of Kenya, poor and vulnerable girls frequently lack panties in which to place sanitary pads. As a result, they miss about a week of school each month during their periods (read more here link). Derby Girls and the Star Wars fans alike objected to this unnecessary barrier to girls’ education, and they decided to do something about it.
On the side of the Oklahoma City Outlaws, each fan who came to the bout with a package of panties received $2 off their ticket. Otherwise, $2 from every ticket was donated to the Panty Project. The owner of the skate rink also pledged to double the money raised. During halftime, a video produced by the team at Koru-Kenya and the Roller Girls described this challenge to the life chances of girls and young women to the audience could fully understand the cause.
The 501st joined these fundraising efforts months in advance, designing and marketing a collector’s patch featuring the cause and selling the patches online and at the bout. They brought a team of certified costumers playing roles form Darth Vader to Princess Leia with whom fans could interact and have pictures taken. They even brought an R2D2 unit, dressed in panties, who collected donations after the halftime video.
In total, the event brought in $1350 and 363 pairs of panties. More donations may follow, but right now, that’s another 350 girls provided with panties! Our expectations for this event were blown away, and we are incredibly touched by the enthusiasm of strangers for the struggles of Kenyan girls and young women.
In the next month, we will identify beneficiaries and local partners for sanitary pad provision, like Wema Centre, who has already been providing sanitary pads as we provide panties. And then the fun begins, as we hold reproductive health life skills trainings, providing both the knowledge and resources (pads and panties) for these girls to keep going to school, despite their menstrual cycles.