Discover more from Faces of ALX SE
Meet Faith Agada, software engineering student using tech to address period poverty in Africa.
Faith Agada saw a huge problem within her community and she chose to dive into tech. Her motivation is to use her tech skills to design social interventions that can scale and create impact.
On Saturday May 28th 2023, the world will be commemorating menstrual hygiene day.
While Menstruation is a fundamental part of women's health, it is still shrouded in secrecy and shame in many parts of the world with devastating effects on women’s well being and dignity. Access to information on Menstruation, Menstrual hygiene practices and access to period products remain a luxury to most women and girls in various parts of Africa.
In Kenya 87.7% receive information on menstruation from their mothers and 15.5% from their teachers. However, the majority of conversations between parents and daughters focuses on avoiding teenage pregnancy, so little attention is given to menstruation (MOH 2020). In Rwanda, 15.2% of girls attribute missing school due to their period, while 23.3% of women and girls report missing participation in economic activities (WEEAT and WaterAid, 2022). In Malawi, 82% of girls were unaware of menses before menarche and 30% were scared by menarche.
Across the continent, women such as Faith Agada through her initiative Fadora Champions International are changing the narrative and breaking the stigma when it comes to conversations around menstruation. This week we dive more into her story.
Tell us more about you, who is Faith Agada?
I’m currently based in Abuja, Nigeria. I run an initiative and a dedicated program-Fedora champions international. This initiative was born out of my passion, to educate young adolescent girls on reproductive health education, menstrual hygiene and self esteem, as well as empower women that are less privileged, with skills like fashion, cakes and pastries.
What inspired your passion for the community?
I am driven by my passion to nurture and inspire women, especially those younger than me. I want to see them grow and expand their horizons.
In the normal African setting, a lot of socioeconomic empowerment efforts such as education focus more on the boy child. This is driven by a wrong assumption that the girl child will get married hence there is no need to empower her. I believe this norm needs to change as there are so many things a girl can do! This is an avenue for me to also reach out in the little way I can, I may not be global for now, but we'll get to that point.
Growing up, we didn't have the opportunities we have today, but I'm glad we are alive to see these opportunities. So the right thing to do is to also empower those who don't have it firsthand. If you find yourself in a situation where you can also pass on this information why not do it?
How did you start Fedora Champions International?
In college and high school I had friends who constantly came to me for advice and counsel. Eventually I realized I have a gift of talking to peers and those younger than me because they listen so I started doing it more often.
In Nigeria, a lot of adolescent girls get pregnant out of wedlock and we found out that most parents don't find it comfortable enough to talk to their young daughters on such issues, especially when they start their menstrual flow.
While in the field, I came across a young lady that just started her period and she didn't know what to do because nobody educated her about it. So she didn't even know what was wrong with her and was not aware that this is a regular thing that happens as a woman at a certain point in time. I then decided to educate the youth and young adolescence on what is happening to them as women and also know their menstrual hygiene.
How do you create awareness through Fedora Champions International?
We visit high schools and colleges and educate these young girls on sex education, menstrual hygiene and abstinence. During these conversations we get to hear a lot of secrets as there is a lot happening in their lives but they just need someone to listen to them.
While interacting with them, I also share some skills such as Baking and Fashion which the girls can use to set up a source of income for themselves.
Interestingly, Faith did not have a background in Tech let alone Software Engineering before joining the ALX program as part of cohort 13 which started in February 2023.
What drew you to the ALX SE program?
I was challenged to also be part of the women who code!
I want to create and develop projects and software that makes an impact in the lives of the younger generation. As I'm learning I also want to learn in such a way where I will also develop things that have an impact on the world and the younger generation.
I want to motivate young girls to say, Oh, wow, if this lady can do this, I can also do it!
How have you found it so far being in the software engineering program and balancing Fedora Champions International?
This is my first time in the IT world, I have a background in Education Biology. Initially, it wasn't pretty easy, especially when we onboarded because everything was new.
Eventually I found a balance.
What advice would you give to those who want to start the ALX program but feel they don’t have the time?
My word of advice is whatever you want to do. You make up your mind that you want to do it, whatever you're going to start you have to try as much as possible to complete it. You have to be positive that this is what I want to do, and I will ensure I see it through.
So if you decide that you’re taking on ALX, you’re also likely to have 1 or 2 things you’re doing as well and this is where time management comes into play.
What would you say to those who want to create impact using software engineering but are not sure about it?
It's not just about what you want to gain now. Definitely, Yeah, we all want the money and you also need money to push your vision.
In learning also have a vision of what actually you want to transcend this into. It’s not just me, myself and I, so it should be beyond what you want for yourself. People will remember you long after you are gone for having touched their lives in a positive way hence striving to leave such a legacy is noble.
Do you have any final words of advice?
My final word of encouragement to my current peers is: we have been doing hard things and we will keep doing hard things hence they shouldn't give up. You know, it's a long journey since we've come this far. Look back and be proud of how far we have come and keep forging ahead, keep learning and keep learning!
For those coming in, be prepared to do hard things, map your mind and stay positive. And look at the end result and say okay, I've started this I'm going to finish it.
To get to the final stage, be so positive that achieving what you’re actually here for becomes easy and natural to you.