We loved welcoming our International Women’s Day guest speakers over an intimate conversation last Friday evening. With audience Q&A lasting an hour, we know our guests did too!

Geena Dunne, the Founder and CEO of The Cova Project, spoke passionately about how their distribution of menstrual cups to girls across Africa has dramatically improved attendance at school and at work, through access to basic necessities and elevated self-confidence. The positive ripple effect of enhanced education and work opportunities stands to reason.

However, there is a much bigger picture to consider; a girl without basic sanitary products is unable to go to school whilst menstruating, but school is where there are safe bathroom facilities. This means, when not in school, she must walk across town to use the public toilets. Why is this a problem? Because the likelihood of her being assaulted on this journey is extremely high. Now she is faced with the concept of marriage or a childhood pregnancy and is forced to leave her education behind.

A menstrual cup can last up to 10 years and costs just $7….one cup means she can complete her high school years unimpeded by menstruation and avoid unnecessary danger. https://www.thecovaproject.com/

Stephenie Rodrigez explained, as a seasoned traveller, how she had found herself in potentially dangerous situations. This, and her entrepreneurial spirit, led her to develop the WanderSafe beacon and smartphone app – a personal safety device designed to empower anyone who feels vulnerable to have increased confidence wherever they choose to go. Through this device, Stephenie is aiming to improve the lives of more than a billion people by 2025.

Stephenie tells the story that even in places such as a slum in a developing country, most people have smartphones. The Wandersafe device and smartphone app allows the user to program in their chosen contacts to an SOS list, to be notified if in danger which can also give the GPS coordinates within three metres. This can often, especially in developing countries, be a better option than the police. Even in our privileged world, the device is just as useful for the elderly, domestic violence victims, shift workers, solo travellers… the list goes on.

The smartphone app is free and the Shakti key ring beacon is $58…making life safer for those most vulnerable. https://www.wandersafe.com/

I always find the Tattersalls ‘IWD’ event inspiring – and last Friday evening’s was no exception. Whilst we lament unfair pay disparity in our privileged world, the two speakers brought us back to fundamentals: the inequality that can ensue from the menstrual cycle and the opportunity lost for those who don’t feel safe. It is a testament to the determination of both of our speakers that they have dealt with adversity in their own lives: both experiencing challenging health issues. It would have been easy to give up on their missions – but not so for these inspiring women! The presentations and the following Q&A was adeptly facilitated by our own Tattersalls’ Committee Member, Bettina Pidcock.
Janet Pennington

Both my guest and I enjoyed the IWD event very much, it had a lasting impact and was both insightful and inspiring. The canapés and drinks were excellent, as was the service throughout. I look forward to attending similar events in the future and congratulations to all concerned for the success of the evening.
Chris Pearson

Thank you to Geena and Stephenie for sharing your inspiring stories, and Bettina for hosting this great event.