Days For Girls Club Brings Women Menstrual Products & Education To Global Level
Although we are in the supposedly modern and advanced year of 2020, there are still at least 500 million women and girls that lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management, according to the World Bank Organization.
One of the specific areas where women are struggling is Tanzania. Even though it is more than 7,000 miles away from State College, one group of students at Penn State has made a dedicated effort to make a big change in the lives of the women and girls struggling there with these issues, as well as in other countries.
These students are part of a club called Days For Girls, which is a global movement that aims to prepare, distribute, and educate women on menstruation products and menstrual health.
In the fall of 2018, a group of students in Schreyer For Women wanted to do a feminine hygiene products drive, planning to donate the goods to those in need in Kenya where members of the club were studying abroad.
“While a lot of people have good intentions when they do drives like that, if you’re donating them to places like Kenya, which was our plan, there is not really the same waste management system there that we have here,” said Jess Strait, Days For Girls President. “So for a lot of those kinds of pads that you use one time and throw away, there’s really nothing to do with them.”
The Schreyer For Women group then took a trip to the King of Prussia chapter of Days For Girls, where the students were encouraged to open up a Penn State chapter. Ever since last fall, the Penn State chapter have been sewing their own bags for the menstrual product kits.
“What Days For Girls International does is they also make shields for panties that are sewn, and liners that go in the shields,” Strait said. “The kit also has clean panties, a bar of soap, a washcloth, and a calendar and pencil to track their periods.”
After the Days For Girls club sews the bags, they usually send them to the King of Prussia chapter to complete the kits. The impact just these small menstrual kits have can help keep thousands of girls safe, healthy, and in school, as those without these products have frequently had to miss long bouts of school while on their period.
“When we have our periods we can still come to school, come to work, and go about our normal days,” Strait said. “One of the founders of Girls For Days found when she was abroad that girls would sit on cardboard for days at a time because they didn’t have any kind of resources.”
In May 2019, three Days For Girls members traveled to Tanzania with a group of Schreyer Honors Scholars on a Schreyer study abroad trip. Noelia Ortiz-Landazabal, one of the founders and former president of the Penn State chapter of Days For Girl who went on the trip, had the chance to physically hand over some of these kits that had so much work put into them.
“When we set foot off the bus in Mvomero, Tanzania, the girls’ waving hands, smiling faces, and cheery Swahili greetings spilled through the school’s windows,” Ortiz-Landazabal said. “They were excited to see us, just as we were excited to see them. As we walked in, each classroom fell to silent eagerness as we set up.”
The education Days For Girls also provides young women and girls is life-changing.
“For some of the girls, this was the first time they had ever seen a drawing of the female reproductive system. And for most, it was the first time they’d learned about topics like their bodies, safe sex, and self-defense,” Ortiz-Landazabal said. “A young teen sitting in the back of the room even handed her baby to her friends so that she too could take notes during our presentation.”
The toolkits and products are designed to last women for up to five years. As the club continues to grow and expands to hopefully gain new members in semesters to come, the impact can only grow more and more in the months to come.
“Days for Girls continuously inspires me. This initiative is eye-opening for girls who have never learned about menstruation,” Otiz-Landazabal said. “Through safe, comfortable conversations that inform girls about the changes their bodies are going through, and by providing them with a tool-kit that can last up to five years or more, this is as sustainable as menstruation as ever been.”
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As a Penn State student sorely missing Happy Valley, its people, and its iconic style, I took it upon myself to recreate iconic Penn State outfits that remind me of home.
Cael Sanderson may only tweet whenever he pleases, but he’ll always be a Twitter legend.
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