Days for Girls and the Fight for Free Period Products
And how you can implement Days for Girls’ cause in your own community.
Last week, we talked about our brand’s mission to end period poverty by partnering with Days for Girls. We want to dive further into their cause and talk about changes you can make to advance menstrual equity in your own community.
When women and girls have reproductive rights and autonomy over their own body, they are able to have a better education, and use their education to become change makers. This is the goal of Days for Girls, an award-winning non-governmental organization.
“Days for Girls works to eliminate the stigma and limitations associated with menstruation so that women and girls have improved health, education and livelihoods,” says their website.
7V Founder, Barb Stegemann chats with Celeste Mergens, founder of Days for Girls, March 3rd 2022
In 2018, the World Bank Group reported that, “at least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management”.
“A growing body of evidence shows that girls’ inability to manage their menstrual hygiene in schools, results in school absenteeism, which in turn, has severe economic costs on their lives and on the country,” writes the World Bank.
We need women at the decision making tables.. Lack of access to menstrual hygiene makes menstruation a barrier that stops this from happening for over millions of women and girls. Days for Girls works to address this barrier by supplying menstruation products and health education to women and girls, as well as pursuing advocacy work for menstrual health.
The amazing efforts made by Days for Girls can translate into how you help advance menstrual equity in your own community.1. Menstruation Products
Days for Girls has created their own DfG pad and menstrual cup, included in the menstrual kits they distribute. Safe and sanitary period products are essential for the physical health and wellbeing of menstruators. “When girls and women have access to safe and affordable sanitary materials to manage their menstruation,” writes the World Bank Group, “they decrease their risk of infections.” The DfG period kits also include soap, underwear, a washcloth and absorbent liners. When women and girls have access to these products, they can spend more time learning in the classroom, playing with friends, and being with family.
In our own communities, we can help bring free menstrual products to the places we frequent. Post-secondary students: create a budget with your school’s union to buy period products. Teachers: bring up the need for accessible period products at your next staff meeting. Small actions lead to big changes. Supplying women and girls with period products can help them achieve their goals while taking care of their menstrual health.2. Education
DfG period kits also come with health education. Days for Girls’ menstrual health education teaches women and girls how to use their period kits, increases confidence managing menstruation, and empower communities to view periods in a positive light, ending stigma and shame around menstruation and puberty.
For example, our Lotus Pear perfume partnered with Days for Girls to address menstrual barriers in Nepal’s Kailali District. In Kailali, there is a strong menstrual stigma and taboo: despite being illegal in Nepal, the practice of Chaupadi Pratha (where women are treated as impure and forced to live in mud huts during menstruation) is still commonly practiced. Days for Girls partnered with teachers and administrators in Kailali to deliver holistic menstrual health education to students – both girls and boys. Not only has this education helped young girls, but it also emphasized the importance of male allyship in menstrual equity. To reach adults in the community, DfG worked alongside women’s circles – which are local women’s savings circles that exist in many Nepalese villages – to provide holistic MH education that opened conversations around stigma, including the practice of Chaupadi.
You can address menstrual stigma in your own community, too. It’s vital in helping women and girls feel safe and proud about their periods. Talking openly about periods and the importance of women’s bodily autonomy can help menstruators feel seen and heard. Education is a powerful tool – by learning about menstrual equity, you can take the first step in starting these conversations. Reading about the movement is a great place to start. We recommend “The Power of Days: A Story of Resilience, Dignity, and the Fight for Women’s Equity” by Celeste Mergens, founder of Days for Girls. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf’s “Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity” is also an extremely enlightening read on how we can get loud about this issue.3. Policy
Days for Girls also does policy and advocacy work to advance menstrual equity. Some of their advocacy achievements so far include launching the South African Coalition for Menstrual Health Management (SACMHM) in March 2020, improving public access to menstrual materials in Maryland State, and piloting education partnerships in Cambodia.
If you would like to start sparking change around you, DfG has conveniently created a Volunteer Advocacy Handbook, which can help you decide where to start on your journey to advocate for menstrual equity. If you’re already involved in government, for example, your local council, this is your opportunity to be an instigator of change. Joining your local council with this cause is also a fantastic idea. For us at The 7 Virtues, our goal is to make menstrual products free across Canada, just like Scotland achieved a few years ago. Access to free period products is a right, not a privilege.
We want to acknowledge our admiration towards Days for Girls, for being leaders and change makers. We at The 7 Virtues stand behind their cause and invite you to do the same. We need to get loud about menstrual equity. Together, we can make an impact and help women and girls around the globe.