Asafach is 21 years old and lives with her father and her two brothers. Her mother died when she was young, so she takes care of her “little” brothers, though the oldest is just four years her junior.
Asafach is beautiful and her eyes sparkle when she talks. Her laughter is contagious, the type that can cause you to involuntarily giggle with her, until you’re both laughing like best friends from high school.
Asafach has worked at the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory since graduating from high school three years ago. She loves that her work means something, that it provides pads to girls so they can stay in school. She remembers staying home during her period to avoid embarrassing accidents when she was a high schooler, and knows how much the product she is making can help.
The work also provides an income to help her father and brothers, peers to socialize with, and more independence than most women her age. It fuels her dreams of making life better for herself and her family.
When asked what she would be doing if she didn’t work at the factory, she answered without missing a beat: “I’d be married with a bunch of kids. What else would I be doing?”
This quick retort reflects the reality for many women in Ethiopia. It is common to marry soon after high school ̶ the legal age for marriage is 18, the same as the US ̶ and have, on average, four or five pregnancies. In a country where problems related to pregnancy took nearly 4,000 lives in 2013, the opportunity to choose a different path, with fewer children, can be life-saving.
On top of a lack of maternal healthcare, women, particularly those in rural areas, work long hours, carry heavy loads, and do other types of strenuous labor. Women walking through mountainous Ethiopian terrain carrying 40 to 80 pound loads of water, crops, or other goods for sale is an everyday sight.
The factory provides a different life for women in Mekelle, a life where work is done in comfortable conditions, doesn’t jeopardize health, and provides a sustaining income and benefits.
Join us in supporting this factory and the women who work to give dignity to school girls and, in the process, gain a bit more for themselves.