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Courtesy of The Washing Machine Project
United Kingdom: Making life easier for refugees
For 70% of the world’s population who do not have access to an electric washing machine, doing laundry is a time-consuming and tedious task. The drudgery almost always falls on women and girls, who can spend up to 20 hours a week scrubbing stains by hand, often without electricity or running water. London engineer Navjot Sawhney, 31, has a solution that doesn’t require electricity: a lightweight, hand-cranked, portable washing machine. It doubles as a clothes dryer and costs just over $60.
Navjot named it ‘Diyva’ after the woman who inspired the project – a neighbor in southern India where he volunteered for a year after quitting his job as an engineer at vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson. “I was appalled by the amount of unpaid work Diyva had to do to get clean linen,” he recalls. Back in the UK he founded the Washing Machine Project in 2018. After spending a few months developing his prototype, he received a grant from the Iraq Response Innovation Lab, an Oxfam initiative.
Since March 2019, more than 150 Diyva have been distributed to refugees in Iraq via cooperation partners. “The reactions were very positive,” says Navjot.
He wants to sell 8,000 of them in 10 countries within three years. By saving 75% of the time and 50% of the water it takes to wash clothes, women and girls can spend more time studying.
For this man, whose father had to flee the country when India was partitioned in 1947, the growing global refugee crisis shows the urgency of innovation: “There is an urgent need for household appliances that make life easier for these people.”
It feels good to hear all the good news happening in the world.
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Canada: free feminine hygiene products
A quarter of young women in Canada say they lack the means to buy the hygiene products they need. And according to a United Nations report released in 2014, one in ten young women worldwide misses school during their menstrual cycle. The Ontario government hopes to remedy the situation through a three-year partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. Eighteen million sanitary napkins are being made available to young women in public school toilets across the province. Ontario is the fourth Canadian province to apply this measure, which is part of a global movement aimed at ending “menstrual poverty” which has negative consequences for education, employment and health, in addition to absenteeism, anxiety and Depression.
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