The title makes me think about spring days playing with my daughter and granddaughter at the park. It does not remind me of “the curse” or “that time of the month” or “periyuks.” Menstrual periods.
I had a chance to hang out at Las Colchas quilt store in San Antonio last week. While I waited for a turn at the material cutting table, I saw a sign: “Days for Girls: What if not having access to feminine supplies kept you isolated during menstruation every month?”
I thought it was a joke at first. Some kind of silly PMS humor. In my mind, EVERYONE has sanitary napkins and tampons. I googled http://www.daysforgirls.org, the website shown on the poster. What I found is that every female does not have access to clean feminine supplies.
The “Days” in the title refers to days lost from school or work, days spent in isolation by women and girls in more than 60 countries across 6 continents. Women in these countries lose income, education, and dignity, unable to leave home and forced to use whatever they can find to stay somewhat clean. According to their website: “It turns out this issue is a surprising but instrumental key to social change for women all over the world. The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school.”
Days for Girls was founded in 2008 when a woman working with Kenyan orphanages asked the assistant director of an orphanage what the girls did about feminine hygiene. The answer was: “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.”
The conditions were cramped, unsanitary, and would leave girls without food and water for days unless someone brought it to them. This sparked awareness of how vulnerable millions of women and girls are every month simply because of this basic biological function. These women and girls suffer in silence, due to cultural ideas and taboos surrounding this issue.
The Days for Girls organization proposes to provide sustainable feminine hygiene kits to these women and girls by partnering with nonprofits, groups, and organizations. Las Colchas, the quilt store we visited in San Antonio, has a once a week meeting with local sewists to make these kits. A kit consists of a drawstring bag which holds soft flannel tri-fold pads, PUL liners, travel sized soap, a wash cloth, and Ziploc bag.
It is humbling to think that scraps of materials can provide independence and that these kits are so valued that girls use them for up to 3 years. Three years gains 180 days of education, health, safety, and dignity for these women. It is definitely worth a few hours visiting and sewing with friends to assemble something so simple that has such an impact.