Midvale residents make positive impact on women and girls around the world
Oct 04, 2018 01:42PM
● By Jana Klopsch
By Heather Sky | [email protected]
In 2008, Celeste Mergens, founder and CEO of Days for Girls International, learned that girls in a Kenya orphanage were sitting on cardboard for several days each month, due to a lack of access to menstrual care and education.
Around the world, girls and women resort to using rags, mattress stuffing, banana leaves, feathers, and even cow dung to manage their menstruation. Mergens’ vision is to turn periods into pathways by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls all over the world.
When Suzanne Walker, director of the Days for Girls Midvale Chapter, and Jennifer Woods, assistant director of the Days for Girls Midvale Chapter, were first introduced to Days for Girls International, they knew they had to get involved. They created a local team in hopes of making a difference in changing the status quo, through menstrual care solutions, health education, and income-generation opportunities. They work together to plan work days, schedule events, and prepare the kit components in order to ensure they meet the Days for Girls standard.
“There is so much that needs to be done,” explained Walker. “Every culture has different reasons for needing these kits. Days for Girls reaches out to countries like India and Nepal, where there is a cultural belief that when you have your period you are unclean. So they cannot touch food, they cannot be around people, and they cannot go to school if they’re on their period. Days for Girls is working to break the stigma of what periods are, and some of the cultural beliefs that are harmful.”
The DfG kit has undergone 27 iterations, incorporating feedback from thousands of women and girls around the globe in the design process. The basic kit contains a DfG POD (Portable Object of Dignity), which consists of one waterproof shield and two absorbent liners. The Supreme Days for Girls Kit is the deluxe version made by chapters and teams around the world. The components include: two panties, one small soap, one washcloth, one menstrual chart with instructions, two gallon-size freezer bags, and one Days for Girls drawstring bag (which often doubles as a school bag for their belongings).
“We don’t ship them anymore, because the women and girls weren’t getting the [kits]. The men or the authorities would take them and trade them for sexual favors, or sell them for a lot of money,” said Woods. “(Days for) Girls also has a business component to break the cycle of poverty. We get the kits into a community, and a chapter will mentor a new team in the area in order to create an enterprise. Then they learn how to make the kits and sell them at a reasonable cost. If you follow the gold standard, each kit should last for three to five years. So that is a lot of time and money we are saving for the girls,” added Walker.
Annika Glover, 19, packed her suitcase with DfG kits before traveling to Fiji with Youthlinc in June. “We went to a village called Narikoso, which is 45 minutes outside of any other town. We took the Days for Girls kits and I was on the health committee, so we taught them all about maturation and how to use the kits and reuse them for years and years to come.”
Days for Girls puts freedom and opportunity back into the hands of women and girls, by creating an environment for narrative change at critical junctures in a woman or girl's life. Today, Days for Girls has reached more than one million women and girls in 124+ countries on six continents. The goal of the nonprofit organization is to reach “Every Girl. Everywhere. Period.”
There are many ways to help the DfG movement in progressing toward a world with dignity, health, and opportunity for all. To get involved with a chapter or team visit www.daysforgirls.org