Baker McKenzie and JESS Join Forces to Combat Period Poverty

This International Women’s Day, Baker McKenzie announced its partnership with the Jumeirah English Speaking School Dubai (JESS), a top British international school based in Dubai, to further advance the school’s transformative ‘Period Empowerment Project’. The project aims to raise awareness of period poverty on a global scale and create gender equality, improved health outcomes and increased educational opportunities for young females living in poverty. 

In 2019, a trio of year 12 students launched a groundbreaking initiative focused on combating period poverty. Beginning with awareness campaigns, the project quickly evolved, culminating in the distribution of 2,500 sanitary towels to over 800 teenage girls and women in Zambia. This effort not only facilitated regular school attendance but also advanced gender equity through the delivery of lessons on menstrual hygiene and female self-esteem –topics long considered a cultural taboo in Africa. Over time, the project has forged partnerships with the private sector, fostering educational opportunities and skill development for young African females. This year, the project aims to produce and deliver over 2,500 of its one-of-a-kind sustainable sanitary towels to teenage girls in Cambodia, while also constructing a water tower at a local school, ensuring access to clean water and safe sanitary facilities. 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the partnership kicks off with Baker McKenzie lawyers and select clients, JESS students and faculty, and the broader community, collaborating in an awareness-raising workshop on reusable and sustainable sanitary kits. In the long-run, Baker McKenzie will continue to support JESS and add value to the programme, by establishing a governance framework to expand the project’s reach and impact, including setting policies for participating schools in destination countries to take on the responsibility for awareness-raising and knowledge sharing to schools and communities within their jurisdictions. 

Commenting on Baker McKenzie’s involvement, Borys Dackiw, Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie in the UAE, expressed: “As a leading global law firm, we are committed to applying our legal knowledge, talent, resources, and expertise to support positive and impactful projects that contribute to the well-being of communities in need. This project is consistent with our firm’s global values of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity values, as well as our Pro Bono strategy to support and serve communities across the globe. It aligns with the expectations of our clients, our people, and the communities in which we live and work. We are honored to have collaborated with JESS on this exciting project.” 

Shane O’Brien, Director of JESS, stated: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Baker McKenzie on ‘The Period Empowerment Project’ which is a student led project that fosters the JESS values of respect, care and integrity. The Project is now in its fourth year and focuses on creating a sustainable solution and thus empowering young women globally. The Project has directly assisted over 800 young women throughout Zambia, and we are pleased to announce that this year the Project will expand to Cambodia. By highlighting 

the adversity that many females face by virtue of their biological functions, Period Empowerment aims to create a more equitable future where every girl has the opportunity to pursue education without barriers.” 

“We are extremely grateful to Baker McKenzie for the ongoing support. Partnerships enable the Project to continue achieving its aim and objectives and to grow year on year,” he concluded. 

The Baker McKenzie team was led by Partner Tina Hsieh (pictured), a member of the Firm’s Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Committee in the Middle East. Commenting on the project, she said: “In some parts of the world, girls are forbidden from socializing and going to school while menstruating. We are delighted to be part of this period empowerment journey with JESS. Our collaboration has further raised awareness about period poverty and highlighted the importance of education to empower young females living in poverty, something which the school has been leading on since 2019. We now look forward to delivering the sanitary kits to those who need it most and building awareness campaigns effecting lasting change in mindsets”.” 

The holistic approach of the project extends beyond providing sustainable sanitary solutions for menstrual hygiene. The long-term vision is to empower women in rural communities globally by enabling continued educational achievement and economic independence through potential employment opportunities. Additionally the project continues to educate our future generations to challenge the stigma associated with menstrual health and to promote inclusivity. 

Further support to the project was also provided by Linen Obsession and Gulf For Good.