It’s not a topic that is often spoken about, but half our population has their period for around a week, every month, for approximately four decades. This produces huge amounts of waste via tampons, sanitary pads, and their packaging! Unfortunately, it is also an ongoing cause of the disempowerment of women worldwide. For women and girls in many cultures, having your period means staying in a room or hut for days at a time, isolated from family, community, work or school. Loss of education, work, and recreation opportunities needlessly disempowers people - enter organisations like Days for Girls.
Days for Girls is a not-for-profit that empowers women and girls worldwide by providing sustainable menstrual solutions. They have branches of volunteers on almost every continent sewing reusable pads known within Days for Girls circles as “PODs” (Portable Object of Dignity) in a Days for Girls kit. The charity also sells PODs to Non-Government Organisations and supports local enterprises to make the products which provide paid employment for local women. The PODs are provided free of charge to women across the world.
When visiting the local Lethbridge branch it was a hive of activity. Between 12-15 volunteers meet on the first non-holiday Monday of each month to sew or put together the Days for Girls packs for distribution across the world. On the day we visited, they were preparing kits to be sent to refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa, with over 100 volunteers from Southern Alberta donating 427 kits for this project. In total, they’ve distributed an impressive 4,000 of these kits (which have 11 hand sewed items per kit, soon to be 12 in mid-2020 when they phase out ziplock packaging) since they were established in 2014.
The kits include 8 liners, 2 waterproof-lined shields, 2 pairs of underwear, a bar of soap, and a care and cycle calendar card. Those receiving the kits will have a short 1-hour education session around menstruation and reproduction, safety, and sex trafficking, adding additional education and empowerment value to the program. The kits are designed to last between 2-4 years, enabling females to continue their daily lives and reducing the use of any unsustainable, plastic intensive, single-use sanitary products.
Our Lethbridge chapter are not only doing great things internationally, they also empower women locally to make more sustainable choices, providing packs for those in need or those with an interest through various events, partnerships, and giveaways. The group has menstrual cup kits that are available at a heavily discounted rate of $15 (significantly more cost effective than most store bought varieties), making cups more financially achievable for young women or those with lower incomes. They’re investigating partnerships with local school districts to discuss more sustainable options for sanitary items and providing kits, enabling our local young women to make environmentally friendly choices when they have their period, diverting lots of waste from landfill. The Lethbridge chapter are also looking to work with partners including the Correctional Centre and Flexible Learning Centre to produce the kits and provide them to those with requirements within those groups. If you need a kit contact the group on the below details.
Written by Erin Hanrahan.
The reusable sanitary pads are part of the Girls for Days kits.Facebook Page=