Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon

by Days for Girls International
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Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Menstrual Health Equity for Women in Lebanon
Enterprise Members from Women Charity League
Enterprise Members from Women Charity League

"I always hear about issues that women face due to lack of personal hygiene, but because of customs and traditions, i cannot always ask about this subject. Now I am very happy because I will be able to understand this informationa scientifically and in a correct way." Fadiyeh speaks with purpose when she imagines the impact that her Enterprise will have in Akkar district for the Syrian refugees in her community. Through the Ambassador of Women's Health training, Fadiyeh is being empowered with the confidence and knowledge she needs to shatter stigmas for women and girls, and support more open dialogue surrounding important women's health issues. 

Navigating the best route to reach Syrian refugees has been both challenging and rewarding as we have explored various partnerships, learned about the cultural, social, and economic context, and puzzled through the supply chain. With the support of Mercy Corps, we were able to conduct a baseline evaluation of menstrual health needs and perceptions of washable pads in early February. Through focus group discussions, facilitators learned that the taboos around menstruation were already slowly started to crack as mothers opened up more to their daughters. However many girls still described their first period as a time that was disturbing, upsetting, or confusing. At the same time, interest in washable pads was mixed as some considered it an old fashioned solution and others were intrigued at the cost-saving and environmental opportunities. It was nearly unanimous that learning a new skill for a small business was a much needed investment for the young women!

Armed with this information, our organizations determined the best way forward was to work directly to the local partners who are operating on the ground. Thus the February trainings were pushed to the end of March as DfG Project Manager, Khayrieh Al Assaad, mobilized our Enterprise Leaders across Akkar district.

In just a few days, the DfG International training team will travel to Akkar to conduct our Leadership Launchpad training program for Enterprises, and conduct our first of many distributions at various refugee camps throughout the district. DfG Kits and fabric are already on their way, and sewing machines have been purchased and are awaiting use. As Fadiyeh says, "I am excited about this project because I will support my family with a small income from sewing, and be able to deliver some health information to Syrian women refugees - and even in a small way preserve the environment." We're excited too, Fadiyeh! 

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Cesi Monroe with DfG Kits ready for travel!
Cesi Monroe with DfG Kits ready for travel!

"All my bags are packed I'm ready to go..." That's the song that's going through our heads at the end of this year as we prepare for the program launch in February! Three team members from Days for Girls International are headed to Tripoli and Saida, Lebanon in February to conduct the training of trainers program with Mercy Corps that will officially kickstart two Enterprises at refugee youth centers. This has been many months in the making, requiring collaboration and cooperation from team members across the globe to map out supply chain, customize and translate training materials, identify project sites, and agree on high-impact deliverables. 

The training of trainers will equip partners at the youth center to conduct DfG Kit distributions, sew & sell DfG Kits locally, and provide women's health education in their communities. With access to a washable, reusable solution, families can save money and girls & women will be able to utilize a sanitary solution they can rely on month after month. Recent follow up data from Kenya showed that one-year post-distribution, 87% of girls were still using their DfG Kits to manage their menstruation. Additional research from Lebanon shows a strong interest in washable pads among mothers and younger teens (with older teens requiring additional education to be convinced). Our wonderful partners at Mercy Corps conducted a basic needs assessment on menstrual hygiene and couldn't wait to get this solution to their centers. 

Not only is this an exciting project in and of itself, but it also has tremendous meaning for the menstrual hygiene movement in the region. The support from GlobalGiving means that, for the first time in DfG history, we will have a permanent presence in the Middle East, providing the ability to reach girls & women across the region! In the past year alone, DfG has received DfG Kit requests from individuals and groups in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and so many other countries. A presence in Lebanon means increased opportunities to meet these needs. And that is something to celebrate!

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DfG Pod - "starter" pack sold by Micro-Enterprises
DfG Pod - "starter" pack sold by Micro-Enterprises

Living in a conflict, or post-conflict situation, means life can change in the blink of an eye, and "solutions" can feel fleeting, insecure, or like bandaids to the real problems going on. At Days for Girls, we can't solve every challenge faced by Syrian refugees today (we wish we could!) - but there is one problem we can help to solve: access to basic hygiene for women and girls. GlobalGiving has provided the opportunity to learn more about the menstrual hygiene and women's health needs faced by Syrian refugees, mostly in Lebanon, and to distribute DfG Kits and education in specific areas. Now, the GlobalGiving community is helping us take our impact to the next level! 

Days for Girls, with the support of GlobalGiving, is embarking on a partnership with Mercy Corps Lebanon to empower girls and women in three community Centers with DfG Kits, Ambassador of Women's Health training, and training & materials to launch DfG Micro-Enterprises. This means that in addition to an initial set of free DfG Kits being made available, girls and women will have long term access to purchase DfG Kits (or components) from local Syrian women running these Micro-Enterprises. Micro-Enterprises are currently benefitting from comprehensive evaluation on a global level to improve the materials and resources we use to get them started and support their on-going efforts!

The past few months have been filled with planning calls, drafting work plans, translating materials, reviewing previous research & notes, and mapping supply chain to make this all possible. In the next quarter, Days for Girls will travel to Lebanon to implement this program with our friends at Mercy Corps. It's true this solution hasn't happened in the blink of an eye, but you can bet the impact will be lasting, secure, and addressing the real hygiene access needs of this population. Thank you for making this possible!

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Doaa with DfG Kit. Photo credit: ANERA Lebanon
Doaa with DfG Kit. Photo credit: ANERA Lebanon

Navigating life as a refugee is uncertain at best, and there is not always an easy answer to the big questions. But when it comes to hygiene, and ensuring dignity for women – there is a simple solution. The Days for Girls Kit allows girls and women to manage their menstruation easily, month after month, providing a basic level of certainty and dignity. This past month, The Muscat, Oman Chapter of Days for Girls partnered with ANERA to distribute 200 DfG Kits in an informal refugee settlement in Akkar, Lebanon, with an additional 200 DfG Kits distributed at a women’s prison and another settlement.

“These awareness activities are much needed here, given the circumstances in which we live within the gathering,” said Doaa, one of the recipients of the DfG Kits. Partnerships such as this one between Days for Girls, ANERA, and the Global Giving community mean that it is possible to match needs with solutions, even in hard to reach areas.

This year, Days for Girls is aiming for even bigger impact by investing more in our partnerships and sustainable solutions for in-country DfG Kit production & education. Building on the growing evidence of need and demand for the DfG Kits, and working with the groups that have been trained in basic DfG Kit production, we will be investing more in our DfG Micro-Enterprises in Lebanon. Because when it comes to menstrual hygiene and women’s health education, there is an easy and certain answer!

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DfG Kit Collection in Seattle
DfG Kit Collection in Seattle

Here in the United States, politics are not as usual. With the administration's attempt to restrict our willingness to accept others into our country, we are reminded that all of us have a history of immigration and seeking a better life elsewhere, even if it was our generations long past. The catchphrase "We are all refugees" has been born out of that idea, and we are seeing it used more and more by those of us who are actively assisting refugee populations. 

This reporting period, I stand behind that phrase. We Are All Refugees. And in the spirit of that idea, our project has just completed a big undertaking- we have assisted with the shipment of over 1,500 Days for Girls Kits to Jordan!

Our friend DeeDee volunteers with Salaam Cultural Museums in Seattle, Washington and was keen to collect DfG Kit to send on their next container headed to Jordan to supply their medical missions teams. The supplies were headed to Zaatari Camp, the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world. The latest UNHCR data reports a population in the camp over 79,000. DeeDee asked DfG Chapters and Teams in the USA if they would donate DfG Kits.  She asked for 300. 

She received over 1,500.

Thanks to this GlobalGiving project, we were able to assist our volunteers in getting their DfG Kits to DeeDee and on to Jordan. Shipments came from all over the country, and the support was overwhelming! Salaam's medical teams will now distribute the much-needed feminine hygiene supplies. Women and girls will now have access to a washable, sustainable solution to their menstrual needs. Salaam's medical teams asked specifically for cloth pads, as the sanitation and garbage disposal situation in camps is not adequate for disposable pads. In addition to women at Zataari, the DfG Kits will be distributed by medical teams in surrounding hospitals and other camps as well. 

And I'll give the incredible DeeDee the last word here:

"Your donated DfG Kits will provide a tangible and measurable improvement in the lives of many Syrian refugee girls and women. Thank you."

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Organization Information

Days for Girls International

Location: Mount Vernon, WA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @daysforgirls
Project Leader:
Erin Hale
Mr. Vernon, Washington United States
$76,677 raised of $130,000 goal
 
1,163 donations
$53,323 to go
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