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ERINN SAVAGE – Performance
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Future experiences - Infiltration of traditional Initiation Ceremony

Women in rural Malawi are still subjected to a traditional initiation ceremony when they reach sexual maturity. This involves sending them away to have sex with a paid male prostitute to rid them of their “child dust”. My project suggests an infiltration of the current ceremony in the way of an underground movement to provide the women of Malawi with contraception.

Expert Input sessions

“We could spend millions on new hospitals, midwifery education or the latest technology... the neonatal and maternal death rates reflect the devastating and inevitable effects of child pregnancy. To ease the pressure on the healthcare system, we must focus our efforts on prevention methods.” - Jude Robinson , Member of SFA Network


From my research I discovered that the ceremony is hosted remotely outside of villages and only females can attend them. This was my key observation for a way to infiltrate the system. With the help and assistance of an NGO, contraception, along with sexual and menstrual health education, could be provided at the new and improved ceremony.

10 years in the future

Using a speculative lens, I predict that contraceptive patches will be manufactured small enough to be able to fit on an earring backing. I chose earrings because, not only does piercing culture fit with African traditions, but they are also in contact with the skin at all times when worn and would be non-intrusive to the strenuous tasks these women complete daily.

Positive changes

With the introduction of accessible contraception, my proposal will dramatically reduce the neonatal and maternal deaths in Malawi, easing the strain on the healthcare system. By postponing pregnancy until the girls are fully developed themselves, their education will not be derailed from childbearing responsibilities which will in turn encourage brighter futures with financial independence.

Self initiated - Pause for thought

My ‘Pause for thought’ project looks into how design can overcome stigma and improve the physical and social experience of women going through menopause. My aim is to normalise the topic by celebrating the life transition like any other major life event. Menopause should no longer be relegated to a ‘woman’s issue’, I intend to challenge this thinking with my design outcome.

A life event

Using future thinking, I believe a menopause party could be as common as a birthday party in the future. Women would come together with their friends and family to acknowledge and celebrate a large change in their life. A party would eliminate feelings of isolation as the woman would be able to physically see the support system she has around her.

Personal experience

My drive for this project stems from watching my mum go through menopause. It wasn’t until I witnessed the effects first-hand, that I realised the lack of education or general conversation around the topic. The women I interviewed for my project, unanimously agreed that more measures should be in place to bring light to a natural biological change to the female body.

Rollercoaster of emotion

Rituals are an important element of parties, such as blowing candles out on a cake. I took all of the personal anecdotes and confessions from my interview participants’ transcripts and mapped the rollercoaster of emotions that were relayed to me. I used these emotions and translated them into actions for the choreography of the ritual.


A red frozen egg, symbolic of fertility and menstruation, is smashed by the celebrated woman. The ice melts to a red liquid which is used to dye a ribbon that is made into a badge for daily wear. The badge acts as a social queue for women, they no longer have to declare they are menopausal in order to have their needs catered to.