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The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

News: From period poverty to oil in Kenya – showcasing research at the Festival of Social Science

Credit: Sven Torfinn


ESRC Festival of Social Science

Profiling ground-breaking research funded by the ESRC-DFID, The Impact Initiative is excited to announce that it will be hosting two events as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. Grappling with topical and global challenges we will explore diverse topics - the first event on our calendar is a discussion on how we can improve women’s life choices and the second is an exhibition of moving images that tell the story of the transformation of Turkana, Kenya from oil development .

Improving women’s life choices

Women and girls are often expected to fulfil roles that limit their ability to make strategic and empowering life choices. Off the back of the #MeToo, #TimesUp and #PeriodPoverty movements, it is all too clear that there are a myriad of reasons that can hold women back - whether because of traditional and cultural expectations, economic status or lack of access to healthcare and education.

On 7 November, hosted at the Institute of Development (IDS) at 5pm, this event will bring together diverse research, evidence and experience in an exciting panel discussion aiming to show that there are many opportunities to improve women’s life choices globally.

Confirmed panellists:

  • Zoe Matthews, Southampton University
  • Gina Porter, Durham University
  • Nicola Ansell, Brunel University

Demystifying menstruation: From UK – Uganda

In many societies, a woman's period is a topic shrouded in euphemism and secrecy, owing to communal beliefs that can leave girls and women feeling embarrassed, isolated, and insecure. When this is combined with lack of access to sanitary products, or to safe, private places to use them, the results can be socially and emotionally devastating. In this discussion, research from Uganda will be shared with young women in the UK in an attempt to talk about the reality of the issues that they face.

This event will take place at IDS, and will form the second part of our Women’s life Choices event. Beginning at  6.30pm on 7 November, we will draw on research from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London demonstrating that in rural Uganda, providing free sanitary products and lessons about puberty to girls may increase their attendance at school

Confirmed panellists:

  • Lata Narayanaswamy, University of Leeds
  • Tasha Mansley, Role Models Project, University of Sussex
  • Emily Wilson-Smith, IRISE
  • Catherine Dolan, SOAS, University of London

Picturing change: Oil development in rural northern Kenya

In central Brighton, a photographic exhibition will bring to light the story of changing lives and livelihoods in Lokichar, a small town in Turkana County, and surrounding villages that are at the centre of northern Kenya’s oil frontier.

This exhibition will be opened by the Labour MP for Kemptown and member of the International Development Committee, Lloyd Russell-Moyle on 9 November at 12pm, at Junkyard Dogs in Brighton, UK. It will feature the work of acclaimed photographer Sven Torfinn and images from Turkana-based Evans Otieno. The photographs capture changes for a community whose fortunes have become inseparable from the highs and lows of the global resource economy.

As part of a much wider initiative this exhibition brings to light the work of The Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Brighton, UK and the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies, Kenya, as well as a team of researchers from Turkana County in Kenya who worked closely with oil investors, advocacy organisations, and communities to understand and balance-out the interests at play in Northern Kenya. They have enabled the different parties to navigate a peaceful and sensitive process and this will be key to informing plans for the future. 

This digital story, which includes some of the images from the exhibition, highlights the complexities, challenges and opportunities for a community at the forefront of such rapid change and transformation.


All the events are free, and open to the public.