Maternal Health

How a Hand-Made Hygiene Kit Empowers Girls to Stay in School

Globally, millions of women and girls lack access to feminine products and sanitation resources during their periods. While menstruation is a natural aspect of a woman’s cycle, those living in underserved areas tend to dread the physical and emotional challenges faced during this time of month.

Isolation and feelings of uncleanliness, rooted in cultural beliefs and limited knowledge about periods, generate social stigmas and discourage women from seeking needed support. An additional lack of feminine hygiene products, commonly force girls to miss as many as two months of school each year, while disturbing the professional lives of women.

A girl can miss as many as two months of school each year due to a lack of feminine hygiene products during her period. Days For Girls kits last for up to three years and allow girls to menstruate without missing class. Photo by Bryn Blanks/Direct Relief.

One organization with a mission to create a more dignified, humane, and sustainable world for girls is Days For Girls. Established in 2008, this organization is committed to supporting women in discovering their potential and value as agents of social change. Days For Girls encourages volunteers to sew sanitary kits for distribution to parts of the world where such resources are limited.

On Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, 18 volunteers gathered to assemble over 200 kits at Direct Relief’s Goleta warehouse.

The Days For Girls kit is culturally appropriate, environmentally friendly, easy to clean, and long-lasting. In under three hours, volunteers assembled more than 200 kits for girls around the world in need of hygiene products. Photo by Bryn Blanks/Direct Relief.

Each kit consists of a drawstring bag, two gallon Ziploc freezer bags, two moisture barrier shields, eight absorbent tri-fold pads, one washcloth, one travel-size soap, one instruction sheet and two pairs of girls’ panties. The kits are designed to be functional, long lasting and geared to environments where disposable products aren’t practical. Vibrant, colorful patterns, thoughtfully sewn together, contribute to the discrete design of these reusable pads, which cater to areas where a female’s menstrual cycle is taboo.

The unique, colorful pattern on each moisture barrier shield makes the pad both functional and beautiful. Girls appreciate the decorative nature of the pad, which helps minimize the stigma and shame associated with menstruation. Photo by Bryn Blanks/Direct Relief.

Moving forward, these kits will be distributed to an existing network of partners supporting efforts to equip and empower women. Historically, these kits have been distributed to organizations in Peru, Haiti and countries in west and east Africa. With the intention of keeping girls in school longer, these groups have received assembled kits as a means of providing lasting feminine hygiene solutions.

To get involved, visit the Days For Girls website for instructions on how to make a hygiene kit.

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