used bras tanzania

So according to Wikipedia, since the 14th century women in the West have used a variety of garments to cover, restrain, or modify the appearance of breasts. We’ll take their word for it.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and now women in the West (AustraliaGreat Britain) want to give their bras away to help impoverished women in Africa.

Fast forward to today and two British students are heading to Tanzania for a social enterprise project to re-sell donated garments. No shade for social enterprise, but looking at the pictures of Scott Row and Emma Woodhall (below), we feel like this needs another side eye.

Students with Bras
When Oxfam launched a similar initiative this past April there was uproar, but the debate showed that there’s not a consensus on whether this type of development work is appropriate. We think for us it is not. Again social enterprise plays an important role in economic development, but there’s something very crude about used personal garments. It probably has to do with the privacy we associate with body parts such as the breasts, and that combined with the dynamics of how the West engages with Africa. We’re all for recycling and coming up with creative ways to encourage economic activity- but we think this particular project needs a bit more innovation, and to pause on the bras.

Comments

  • Margaret

    We’re do I post used bras to for womn in Africa?

    • Pat Gibbs

      It seems so wasteful to throw away used but reasonable bras – is there an address I can send them to for use in African countries ? I am sure lots of peole would respond to this if they saw the need.

  • Dee

    Agreed. If these used bras are no longer good enough for women in the West, why would they all of a sudden be OK for African women? How condescending. Why not instead go to the companies like Playtex or Warners and ask them to donate? Or ask people to donate money and use the funds to buy new bras outright and send them to Africa. Just because people have very little doesn’t mean they deserve, or will settle for, garbage.

  • Mel

    I agree with Dee. Such ventures are a perfect example of false paradigms. I’m sure the students mentioned in this article meant well, but they have a terrible view of Africa. Africans are not people to be nurtured and given hand-me-downs like a younger siblings, they are your equals. If you truly want to help, support the development of local garment industries, as opposed to hindering their growth with sub-par freebies that prevent local manufacturers from doing their thing. Just my opinion.