Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wingwoman, are NGOs doing what someone else should?

All right, my sample is certainly biased, but whenever I ask any youth where they are working, 1 over 2 of them says the name of an NGO. And yet for many NGOs carry an incredibly bad rap - they are imperialist tools to take over Lebanon sponsored by soiled money, they are inefficient, bloated and self-righteous and carry little difference on the ground.

As I was browsing Instagram lately I came across the case of Wingwoman and their reusable diapers case. The statistics are mentioned in the imagery above. Just to be clear I know no one who works at Wingwoman, and since I have have a long career in development I studied the numbers they offered, the case study - all in colors and well-designed I must admit - and the end result of it. And by Jove they make sense. 

The numbers are all logical, they do not pretend their work was fully adopted by the sample, and yet the marked difference between the before and after of the study (distributing reusable diapers and how this alleviates economic hardship on families) makes total sense. You can see the whole thing here. In their own words Wingwoman are about "Elevating women; Reducing waste; Increasing long term access to reusable diapers, period pads & period education". 

Look, I know some of you might find this risible, but yes, even women need "period education" and no, for a woman to go into a shop and buy sanitary pads is not a socially-approved mission. Many - and I mean many - still face a "stigma" as if menstruating monthly is something to be ashamed of. As I said I hear and read many cases, one girl when she had her first period and ran to her mother not understanding what was happening to her, saw her mother slap her violently as a retaliation.

So, again, as "normal" state agents in Lebanon - read that ministries and official bodies - are hanging by a thread, as their work has been sporadic and not exactly efficient, what if NGOs are actually filling that space on the ground and going what "must be done", one sanitary pad at a time, one reusable diaper at a time? Wingwoman certainly seems to prove the case.