Em­pow­er­ing women with ed­u­ca­tion


Kathryn Lynskey is the mother of four girls, so she is cer­tainly very fa­mil­iar with ‘‘girl things’’.

With the four girls grow­ing up and with her 50th birth­day ap­proach­ing, last year she de­cided she wanted to do some­thing to mark the oc­ca­sion.

Lynskey is the team leader for Days for Girls North Can­ter­bury, an or­gan­i­sa­tion aims to em­power women across the globe by pro­vid­ing sus­tain­able fem­i­nine hy­giene so­lu­tions and health ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘I got think­ing about vol­un­teer­ing and be­gan search­ing on­line,’’ she said. ‘‘I’d been to Laos be­fore, and I found this web­site and women’s em­pow­er­ment came up. I no­ticed some Days for Girls in­for­ma­tion on their web­site and they were look­ing for the right per­son to teach peo­ple how to sew. I just thought it was meant to be.’’

Lynskey is back af­ter a four­month stint overseas and she is putting the ex­pe­ri­ence down as one of the most re­ward­ing in her life.

‘‘They had never seen a sewing ma­chine be­fore. I taught a group of women to use one to make bags and the kits, and four weeks later we had a num­ber of women sewing [fem­i­nine hy­giene] kits as well as we do in New Zealand.’’

The project has re­ally taken off and is even en­abling young women to earn money for them­selves with their new sewing skills. A com­plete new team has also been trained up which will go and share their learn­ing to em­power more groups else­where around south­east Asia.

The Days for Girls North Can­ter­bury team do­nated many items to the new Laos team, in­clud­ing an over­locker, fab­ric, scis­sors and other sewing equip­ment, as well as 150 pre-made kits, which will be dis­trib­uted to sur­round­ing vil­lages, with help from the team in Palmer­ston North.

Lynskey also had enough fund­ing to be able to buy an in­dus­trial sewing ma­chine for the new sewing team to use.

‘‘It was a re­ally awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence. The 16 and 17 year olds were right into it. And the great thing is now they can make money for them­selves.’’

Now that she is back in New Zealand she is de­ter­mined to go back, but un­til then she will al­ways have a con­nec­tion with the area as she and her hus­band will be sup­port­ing a two-year-old girl through her school­ing. Her mother left her with her fa­ther, a tuk-tuk driver, when she was a baby and she now sleeps in a ham­mock in the back while he works.

On top of all this, Lynskey is also hop­ing to get a local ini­tia­tive off the ground which would see packs made up for new moth­ers and ba­bies.

Do­na­tions and of­fers of help are al­ways wel­come, so if you have some spare time for a good cause, visit Days for Girls North Can­ter­bury’s Face­book page.


Kathryn Lynskey from Kaiapoi is just back from a four-month trip to Laos where she taught women how to sew.

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