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Darwish named WomenNC Scholar

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Written by Yesenia Jones, Nubian Message staff writer.
Photo of Sara Darwish by Adarsh Puvvadi Ramamohan Kumar, Nubian Message photographer

A WKNC DJ and Technician writer is one of two NC State students accepted into the highly competitive WomenNC Scholars program.

Sara Darwish, a third-year studying social work and Arabic, along with Jada Hester, a third-year studying business administration and international studies, will present research at the WomenNC’s 10th annual Local-to-Global Forum on February 28, 2019. They will also have the opportunity to present at the United Nations Annual Commission on the Status of Women Conference in New York in March 2019.

Darwish chose to focus on an issue women face globally, but also significantly affects female NC State students.

“My research explores barriers to accessing menstrual hygiene products, specifically what barriers students in public higher education face and how this impacts their educational experience,” Darwish said in an email interview.

She stated many menstruating students at NC State wish there was more access to free menstrual products, more locations that sell menstrual products, and less stigma surrounding menstruation.

“Being a menstruating person, accessibility barriers and stigma have personally impacted my NC State experience, both in and out of the classroom,” Darwish said. “There have been many times where I’ve had to go without products while in class, on assignment for Technician, or leading a Model UN meeting because there either weren’t products available nearby, or I was afraid of facing backlash in spaces dominated by non-menstruating people.”

Through prior research, she found there was not much research regarding the subject.

“I wanted to establish verifiable evidence this was, indeed, a problem impacting students and receive feedback from the community on the best ways to eliminate the issue,” Darwish said.

Darwish hopes the evidence she will provide can spark change within the university system and the state of NC.

“The state of North Carolina is among many that tax menstrual hygiene products, but does not tax other items like Viagra,” she said. “It is my hope this research can be used to advocate for a removal of the tax that currently exists on period products. I also hope this research will open doors to providing these items to students in our state’s public school system free of charge.”

The WomenNC Scholars program is hosted by the local non-profit, WomenNC. Their mission is to aid NC youth in decreasing violence against women. The non-profit upholds its mission by annually recruiting and accepting a cohort of local college students. Once accepted, these students are afforded the opportunity to conduct research on issues facing women.