By Katie Cota ‘20, Katya Cerny ‘19, and Maggie Brady ‘19
Christine Garde is the Founder and CEO of “Could You?” a non-profit group that combats poverty in Africa by providing opportunities for education, economic investment and healthcare. In 2016, Garde was recognized as one of Forbes “Forty Women Over Forty” who are impacting the world for the better. Garde is an alumna of Pace University, where she earned a degree in International Management. She has also earned a certificate in Community Economic Development from San Diego State University. Since then, Garde has devoted over 25 years of experience to developing and implementing social and economic outreach programs, including a gang diversion program along the California-Mexico border in San Ysidro and Tijuana. Today she continues to serve as Founder and CEO of CouldYou in Mozambique, where she moves humanity forward by supporting impoverished communities. Her goal for Could You? is to provide attainable and sustainable solutions that help struggling demographics support themselves, as seen with through the organization’s recent “Could You? Cup” campaign.
Could You? was founded with the mission to create solutions to problems that arise in African communities by working in collaboration with local leaders and community members. They believe that “the line between the giver and receiver dissolves” when meaningful relationships are built through service and experiences are shared between both individuals. By working with local African community members, Could You? helps individuals find their own opportunities to break the cycle of poverty affecting their societies.
One of Could You?’s main initiatives is female health and education. They hope to change the stigma surrounding menstruation and provide girls with the necessary tools to maintain hygienic practices. Providing these girls with feminine hygiene products not only brings them a sense of dignity, but allows them to reach their fullest potential as future leaders in their communities. Due to the lack of feminine hygiene products in countries such as Mozambique, Africa, 1 in 10 girls have to miss school during their menstruation cycle. With 60% of the population living in poverty and about 80% living on less than two dollars a day, many students are forced to forfeit their education and focus on supporting their own families. Once these students fall behind in school due to their menstrual cycle, their only option that appears is to halt their educational careers to support their families.
In order to combat this issue, CouldYou? has begun its initiative to provide girls with menstrual cups in Mozambique, which is one of the poorest and underdeveloped countries in the world. The reusable menstrual cup is the most cost-effective menstrual solution and provides a safer, more eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads. CouldYou? has partnered with governments and international organizations to educate girls on menstrual health and provide the necessary information and products for teenage girls when it comes to their feminine health.
We have identified Christine Garde and her “Could You?” campaign and as an Architect of Change because her mission of bringing girls back to education truly moves humanity forward. Currently, although 94% of girls enroll in a primary school in Africa only 11% continue to secondary school. To combat this disheartening reality, Could You? has created an innovative, creative, eco-friendly, and economical alternative by providing the Could You? cup to help increase the amount of girls who stay in school. Could You is making its impact in Africa and in our world by providing women with access to education, alleviating the barrier of menstruation, and helping to end the cycles of poverty which continue to restrain Africa’s impoverished.