Thomas Edison embraced the disappointments and stumbles that led to his invention of the light bulb, reportedly saying, “I have not failed, I've just found 700 ways that won't work.”
When it comes to menstrual care, our world has also found hundreds of ways to fail. Too many products have failed to consider cultural, environmental, and economic contexts. But worst of all, communities stayed silent as women and girls were taught to feel ashamed and afraid of a natural bodily function.
With your help, Days for Girls has made amazing progress. Not only have we developed beautiful, affordable, and sustainable pads that restore days of dignity, health, and opportunity — but our educational materials, community conversations, and training programs tackle menstrual stigmas and limitations in more than 120 countries. In the past month, your collective gifts to our Shattering the Shame project in western Nepal have earned us a coveted spot in GlobalGiving’s Girl Fund, dedicated to increasing opportunities and improving lives for women and girls around the world. At the same time, our Days for Girls International Ambassador Chrissie Fit has been using her celebrity platform — and beautiful voice! — to help us reach Every Girl. Everywhere. Period.
We've come a long way since founding Days for Girls in November 2008. Periods have gone public; NPR even declared 2015 the Year of the Period! We still have more work to do — let’s be honest, most people would still rather talk about diarrhea than menstruation — but our path forward is clear. As Prof. Chris Bobel wrote in her recent New York Times piece, Menstrual Pads Can’t Fix Prejudice, “When menstruation is treated as normal, it becomes more than a nuisance, a punch line or a weapon wielded to keep women in their place.” But she also warns that “if this moment is going to grow into a movement,” menstrual activism must focus on education and advocacy as well as product development.
Thankfully, that has been our focus all along. From the very first kit distribution, education has been a key component of the Days for Girls mission, vision, and impact. Today, our “moment” has already grown into a strong movement — tens of thousands of volunteers and social enterprise leaders, reaching more than a million women and girls… and counting! Momentum keeps growing, as we continue proving how much menstruation matters and education changes lives. Thanks to you!
Celeste Mergens is Founder and CEO of Days for Girls International.