Days for Girls International

Creating a more dignified, free and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions.
Dec 22, 2016

Reflecting On 2016

Christine, Micro-Enterprise Leader from Kira, UG
Christine, Micro-Enterprise Leader from Kira, UG

“I have always had the passion of sewing. I love selling the DfG Kits because I get an income, but also I feel people value the Kits if they have contributed something towards it.” Christine from Kira, Uganda is just one of the incredible Micro-Enterprise Leaders who got her start in 2016. As the draws to a close, we have taken this time to reflect on the incredible progress that our teams have been able to make with the support of our Global Giving network. This has been a year of tremendous growth and strategic planning, always asking ourselves how we can do better and reach more girls with access to sustainable hygiene and health solutions.

Our Enterprise Team was able to finalize a set of training resources that have supported our Country offices to further develop our Micro-Enterprise model. The Micro-Enterprise model allows local women to start their own small businesses making and selling the DfG Kit, which in turn provides sustainable access for their communities while also generating an income source for the women themselves. A partnership with Projet Juene saw this model expand all the way to Madagascar, where they have trained a group of women to sew and sell the DfG Kit. In Toliara, Madagascar, yet another Micro-Enterprise has blossomed to meet the needs of women in the southwest.

Across the continent in Ghana, our passionate leaders, Bernice and Prince, have been tirelessly moving around the country training girls to make their own DfG Kits, along with essential women’s health education. Overnight bus rides, rattling minibuses, and bumpy dirt roads haven’t been able to stop them yet. In just the five months that they’ve launched this training program, they have been able to directly reach over 1,200 girls. And they are on target for an even bigger impact in 2017!

Our Uganda team also saw tremendous growth in their third year of operations, directly reaching over 13,000 girls and women in 2016, a 60% increase from 2015. 1,000 of those girls reside in the Karamoja region of Uganda – one of the most rural and underserved regions in the country. Through the two-day training program, these out-of-school teens learned a new sewing skill, along with important health education they can teach to family and friends. At the end of a recent training, a loud commotion drew the training team outside. They found one of the training participants, a girl of just 15, surrounded by her friends on the pathway towards home. She had just thwarted the assault of a stranger using the self-defense moves she had learned that same day in the training program. An incredible, if deeply unsettling indication of just how critical this education is.

It is the support of Global Giving that makes this kind of direct impact possible, changing lives one Kit at a time, and building empowered communities, with each leader trained! In the words of Christine, “most of all, I love providing a valuable solution the women and girls of Kira.” Thank you to our Global Giving family, for providing such valuable solutions to women and girls around the world. We can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring!

Girls celebrating their DfG Kits in northern Ghana
Girls celebrating their DfG Kits in northern Ghana
Micro-Enterprise Leader in Madagascar
Micro-Enterprise Leader in Madagascar
Sep 30, 2016

Looking Through the Business Lens

Jane at her graduation from DfG University
Jane at her graduation from DfG University

Maracha lies in the north-western corner of Uganda, just on the border of Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a small and rural district settled into the West Nile Region of Uganda. A dry and arid setting, the landscape is both beautiful and vast. And within Maracha District resides an especially spectacular lady – Jane, and beautiful and determined school-teacher with a passion for both girls and for health. Jane attended the November 2015 Session of DfG University – our two-week residential training program that helps women launch their own small businesses making and selling DfG Kits (washable pads).  From the moment she arrived, Jane emerged as a leader in her class, generating smiles and laughter in every session.

 

Admittedly, we were a little bit nervous about Jane’s business prospects when she returned home. The West Nile region is one of the poorest in Uganda, and many families do not have disposable income for items other than the necessities. On top of that, gender equality is a particularly challenging issue in this area, where women are given little agency to advocate for their needs within the home. So, we were nothing short of blown away when we checked in with Jane just 4 months later.

 

A site visit to Jane showed us that she had mobilized a small army of women to help her sell the DfG Kits all over her community. She had sold her entire starter pack of 50 Kits – and not all in one go to a big organization, but one by one to the actual women and girls who would go on to use them. That is 50 women and girls who no longer have to worry about what they will use. 50 women and girls who can go about their days with ease and comfort when they are menstruating. 50 women and girls who lift their heads high with the pride of having purchased their very own DfG Kit. This was an incredible turning point that showed us the possibility and the potential of empowering women with business to improve health and hygiene in their communities!

 

We have worked tirelessly in the past year to refine our Enterprise training resources so that we can promote sustainable, long-lasting access points for menstrual hygiene products and education. It is our vision to see local women owning this process and being the ambassadors for menstrual hygiene in their communities, and with women like Jane, this is coming to fruition. The support from Global Giving has helped us employ local Ugandan women to go out and train other women, and to provide critical reproductive health and hygiene education to girls and mothers. 

Close up of DfG Kit Components
Close up of DfG Kit Components
DfG Team discusses program strategy & planning
DfG Team discusses program strategy & planning
Sep 26, 2016

Women Helping Women in Lebanon

In the northern part of Lebanon, the Akkar District is home to over 100,000 Syrian refugees. According to the UNHCR, "On average, refugees earn 20,000 LBP (USD 13) per day, with women much more likely to be paid less. With earnings reportedly too low to cover basic expenditure needs for the household, many refugees relied on alternative sources of income to support themselves and their families - sometimes deploying negative coping mechanisms and strategies"

In partnership with ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), we are proud to report that there are now two established DfG sewing teams in Akkar. We recently returned from a trip to Lebanon where we saw firsthand the dedication of these women and the high quality of their work. These teams will be sewing and assembling DfG kits to be marketed to the many NGOs that operate inside Lebanon. This will give women in Akkar an opportunity to earn income for their families, allow aid workers to access feminine hygiene supplies quicker and more efficiently, and provide sewing training for other women in the communities who are interested in learning that skill. 

We have trained staff members of ANERA, Mercy Corps, IRC, and several local Lebanese NGOs regarding the proper distribution and awareness sessions that accompany the DfG kit. These sessions provide not only a beautiful DfG kit that a woman can use for years to come, but they also provide a safe space to discuss menstrual hygiene and reproduction with trained leaders and other community members. Many women tell us at our distributions that they had never had a thorough explanation of their menstrual cycle! One highlight of the awareness session is the menstrual chart that each woman receives in her DfG Kit with instructions for how to use it. This helps a girl to plan ahead, knowing when to expect her period and to be prepared with her supplies. It allows a woman the opportunity to know when she is most and least likely to become pregnant.

With the support of our many GlobalGiving donors, we have been able to supply the new DfG teams with enough fabrics to complete 250 shields. Each team received a hand snap and removal tool, a large supply of plastic snaps, a fabric die cutter, and the printed menstrual charts to accompany the DfG Kits. Recurring and new donations will allow us to purchase more supplies for the teams, hold more extensive sewing training sessions, business and marketing trainings, and the opportunity to travel to Lebanon to assist with supply chain development and quality control. 

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