Days for Girls (DfG) is a not-for-profit organisation that has a network of teams and chapters around the world. DfG raises funds to make washable, reusable sanitary care kits and then they are distributed to girls and women in need. Alongside the distribution of these kits, a reproductive and hygiene education is provided.
The DfG feminine care program provides quality, sustainable solutions for girls who have nothing to manage their period. Without access to feminine care products, many girls stay isolated during menstruation with no study for days. In many countries in the developing worlds, girls can miss up to 8 months of school every 3 years and are much more likely to drop out altogether.
DfG began in 2008 when Founder and CEO Celeste Mergens was working with a family foundation in Kenya. She began assisting an orphanage in the outskirts of Nairobi. In the wake of historic post-election violence, the population at the orphanage had swelled from 400 children to 1400.
As she was getting prepared to return to Nairobi, Celeste went to bed with the question weighing heavy on her mind. “What are girls doing for feminine hygiene?” She ran to the computer and sent an email to the Assistant Director of the orphanage.
His reply: “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.”
Celeste learned that girls were sitting on cardboard for several days each month, often going without food unless someone would bring it to them. This prompted her first intervention - disposable pads. But Celeste and her team quickly discovered a major problem - without any place to dispose of the pads, this was not a viable or sustainable solution. It was time for plan B: a washable, long-lasting pad.
DfG began in Australia in 2012 after Gloria Buttsworth had a visit from her friend, Lois Ford, who runs a children’s home in northern Uganda. The two got talking about the girls in the home and particularly their hygiene needs. The sad fact was that most could not afford sanitary products, and this deficiency created a vicious cycle of impoverishment as the girls missed school repeatedly and finally dropped out. The question occurred to Gloria: ‘‘What can I do?’’
The answer appeared in the form of the Days for Girls International Feminine Hygiene Program. Gloria contacted Celeste Mergens, the founder of DfG in America and the rest is history. Since beginning in 2012 with 4 teams, Australia now has a network of volunteers who sew and distribute from every State and Territory.
Internationally to date over 1.3 million women and girls have received kits in more than 130+ countries. There are more than 15 countries with enterprises and more than 1000 teams and chapters worldwide. This translates into over 115 million days of dignity, health and opportunity that would otherwise be lost without sustainable hygiene solutions.
Currently, in Australia, our reach is approximately 37 different country distributions. These range from several hundred in the Pacific Islands, Syria, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Kenya to over 1000 in Bhutan, Cambodia and PNG, too many thousands in Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And Aboriginal Communities in Australia and to homeless women.