Integrating Menstrual Health into Humanitarian and Emergency Responses in Lebanon
Each year, conflicts, disasters and public health emergencies leave millions of women and girls without access to clean and safe products to manage their menstruation.
When local and foreign governments, and organizations shift their allocation of resources towards meeting “basic human needs,” menstrual health solutions are often under-funded, or excluded altogether.
Days for Girls is working to address this gap on a global scale. In countries around the world, we’re mobilizing local menstrual health leaders, rallying thousands of volunteers, and building partnerships with grassroots organizations to set a new, gender-inclusive standard for humanitarian efforts – one that includes menstrual health.
Days for Girls Lebanon Succeeds at Integrating Menstrual Health Into Emergency Response
On August 4th, two devastating explosions struck the port of Beirut, Lebanon. Days for Girls (DfG) was one of the first NGOs to respond with aid for communities affected by the blast.
The aftermath of this tragedy – combined with the impacts of COVID-19, civil unrest and widespread economic turmoil – has significantly hindered the ability of Lebanon’s women and girls to manage their menstruation. An estimated 84,000 menstruators were displaced from their homes following the Beirut explosions, and now struggle to meet basic health needs in temporary shelters or settlements. Meanwhile, the cost of period products is skyrocketing nationwide – untouched by government subsidies designed to make other “essential goods” more accessible amidst widespread inflation and poverty.
In response to this crisis, Days For Girls Lebanon doubled down on efforts to reach as many women and girls as possible. Prior to the explosions, they focused primarily on bringing menstrual health solutions to Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities. Now, DfG Country Coordinator Khayrieh Al Assaad is leading local menstrual health champions in a coordinated effort to serve both refugee and Lebanese menstruators in need.
To date, Days for Girls Lebanon has helped distribute washable face masks to more than 3,500 people in Beirut, and is in the process of distributing nearly 20,000 DfG menstrual health Kits to women and girls as well (in partnership with local and international organizations).
The Future of Days for Girls Lebanon and Menstrual Health as a Basic Human Need
Days for Girls Lebanon believes that all menstruators deserve to manage their periods safely, effectively and with dignity. To bring this universal human right to as many people as possible, they run three locally-owned and locally-operated Social Enterprises that:
- Produce, sell and donate Days for Girls washable menstrual products (DfG Kits);
- Improve access to income generating skills and activities for enterprise members;
- Provide menstrual health education for menstruators and their communities, and;
- Demonstrate leadership and change agency through advocacy work.
Days For Girls Lebanon is now advocating for the integration of menstrual health solutions into all emergency response efforts related to the Beirut explosion – and into the ongoing humanitarian aid efforts of refugee organizations, so that refugee menstruators do not get left behind.
They are also capitalizing on the leadership vacuum left behind by the Lebanese government’s recent resignation by pursuing activism, advocacy and partnerships with multi-laterals and nongovernmental organizations in the region.
In doing so, they aim to create lasting, deep-seeded change for menstruators throughout the country. Right when it matters most.