We started Globalwot after an especially meaningful experience delivering Days For Girls kits in a small village outside Udaipur, India. We want to help DIY women travelers and we want to help women in the places we travel. Believing that if you teach a girl, you teach a nation, we partnered with Days For Girls International. We want to get the word out that you can help girls learn about menstruation and how they can manage it and stay in school for all the days of their period. In 2018/19 over 2,000 kits were delivered by Global Women On Tour in India! We are thrilled that Rosemary Hullinger is guest authoring her experience with Days For Girls and why it matters.
Can you imagine being “married off” by your father when you are just 15 years old and being told it’s because you are a burden to your family? What about having acid thrown in your face because you have only given birth to girl babies? Or being raped by men and boys who then serve little or no prison time? These are just some of the cruelties I observed in India when I visited there. It was through these stories I realized that the amazing organization Days For Girls matters and I knew that I had to help.
What is Days for Girls?
Days for Girls International is dedicated to improving the feminine hygiene of girls all over the world. They provide menstrual health education and distribute reusable feminine hygiene kits to girls in over 125 countries. Days for Girls (DfG) helps give back days of school that are usually lost when a girl has to wait out her period at home.
My First DfG Experiences in India
I traveled to Agra, India in February 2016 with a group of Rotarians to give polio vaccinations. The year before that, I had become familiar with a program called Days for Girls and had taken their training, so I asked if I could teach some classes and bring some feminine hygiene kits to distribute to school girls.
About 85% of the girls and women in India have no access to sanitary products, so they use old rags, newspapers, dried cow dung, dried leaves, and anything else that they can find to absorb the blood. I arrived in India with 275 kits, a flip chart, and a determination that I was going to teach these girls and give them a washable kit that they could use so they could attend school each day and keep up with their studies.
I wish I could say that all went smoothly with the project, but it didn’t. There was a lot of resistance from some of the men. There were also older women who felt like girls attending school until they were 12 years old was long enough and that they should stay home to help take care of their families.
I taught at the Vishwa Bharti School in Shamshabad, about 40 minutes from the beautiful Taj Mahal. Shamshabad is in a very poor area. The children walked to school or a large truck transported them. They stand in the back of it so they can fit as many students in as possible. There was a hole in the ground, with no tarp or building around it, that the students used for a bathroom. Many of the girls told me that they went home when they needed to use the toilet, and then just stayed home. It was just one place where I could see that an organization like Days for Girls matters.
Women’s Health Education
When I started to teach the maturation program, there were looks of amazement on the girls’ faces. Especially when I mentioned uterus, fallopian tubes, and menstruation. They had never heard these words and many of them thought they were sick when they started their periods. The teachers were not allowed to teach anatomy in the secondary schools, so this was all new to them.
I taught them that healthy normal girls bleed every month. They got excited and wanted to learn more. The DfG program also asks its Ambassadors of Women’s Health to teach basic handwashing, the importance of keeping our bodies free from infections, and some self-defense skills. The girls loved practicing these new skills and wanted others to pretend that they were boys, so they could yell “no” at them and show them that they were in charge of their bodies.
Reusable Feminine Hygiene Kits
Then we brought out the feminine hygiene kits. The girls were a little nervous, wondering if these kits would really work.
I slipped on a pair of panties, with a shield snapped in them, and showed them that I could run, skip, jump, and dance, and my pad never moved.
Pouring water on one of the shields showed them that it wouldn’t leak. I explained if they used these washable kits, they could come to school each day. They could play soccer or whatever else they wanted to do. But most importantly, they could get their education and get jobs to support themselves. Then they could decide when they were ready for marriage.
One of the teachers started to cry. She told the girls they were lucky to learn these things and to hear that it was okay to say ‘no.’ She had been raped when she was young and had no one to teach her about menstruation or self-defense. She contracted a disease and is now unable to bear children. Her husband supports her, but she feels like he blames her in a way, for the rape. It made us all cry to see the girls come and put their arms around their sweet teacher to give her comfort.
Reusable Kits Change Lives
A girl name Neha was in my first class. She was very quiet and always wanted to stand next to me. I asked what she thought about the kits and she said she didn’t know, but she would try one. When I returned the following year, she proudly showed me her kit and said she used it every month and loved it. Neha had a lot more confidence and was doing well in school. She had also brought 20 girls from her village back to school. She told them that if they used their kits, they could attend school and go on to college as she planned to do. Neha is now a junior in high school and very involved. She plans to start taking her tests at the end of this year, to go to school to become a pilot. She is a great inspiration to all of us.
Imagine a world where women are not ashamed because they menstruate. And imagine a $7 kit changing the life of one girl, and multiply that by everyone who reads this. We can help these girls achieve their dreams and goals, and maybe they can change the world.
Why Days For Girls Matters
This is why Days For Girls matters. It’s about every girl, everywhere. Period. This program is dear to us here at Global Women on Tour. You can make a difference for girls everywhere by donating to support this organization. Please donate on our website or donate on their website! There are volunteer opportunities to sew, learn the training, organize groups in your area or even deliver kits yourself. It takes some time and commitment but it is crucial that women stand up for women across cultures and continents. Help us do good for girls everywhere!
What is Days For Girls?
Days for Girls is an international NGO dedicated to increasing menstrual care and education for girls. Days for Girls is currently found in 125 countries and growing through donations of time and means by people worldwide.
How does Days for Girls help?
Days for girls deliver quality, reusable feminine hygiene kits made by volunteers. Each kit comes with reusable shields and liners for absorbing menstrual flow.
Does Days for Girls provide education?
At every Days for Girls delivery, volunteers educate girls about many things including: menstrual flow, body development, conception and pregnancy, self defense, and correct sanitation practices.
Can I get involved with Days for Girls?
Days for girls has chapters in over 125 countries. You can volunteer by organizing or participating in sewing circles, learning the training material, delivering kits, donating money and sharing what you know with others.