What is period poverty?
The American Medical Women’s Association defines period poverty as “the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management”. A study conducted by U by Kotex in 2021 confirms that period poverty remains an alarming crisis that affects 2 in 5 people who menstruate. Due to a lack of resources required to experience a comfortable menstrual cycle, the victims of period poverty face consequences such as having to make alternative menstrual tools, using menstrual tools for an extended and unhealthy amount of time, and missing out on work or school. However, ambitious women around the world like Celeste Mergens, Melissa Berton, and Manjit K. Gill are dedicated to alleviating the effects of period poverty.
Days for Girls International
After discovering in 2008 that the orphanage she was working for in Kenya could not afford menstrual tools for their girls, Celeste Mergens established Days for Girls International. Mergens started her work in the field of menstrual equity by providing sanitary pads for the girls of the orphanage. By the end of the year, she had already enlisted volunteers around the world to make Days for Girls kits (including soap, underwear, a washcloth, absorbent liners, waterproof shields, a care and use sheet) for victims of period poverty in developing countries. Since then the organization has provided health education and sanitary kits to over 640,000 women in 100 countries over 6 continents. The Huffington Post called Days for Girls International one of the next ten organizations to change the world in the next decade. Additionally, Mergens still receives global recognition for her tremendous work. The CEO participates in an average of 50 speaking engagements a year, such as TEDX, and has been featured in Forbes, Oprah’s O Magazine, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The Pad Project
It’s no surprise that someone like Melissa Berton, co-founder and Executive Director of the Pad Project, would be featured in Forbes as one of the “Women Over 50 Who Are Leading the Way in Impact”. The Pad Project was founded in 2013 by Berton and her students at the Oakwood Secondary School in Los Angeles who had the collective desire to promote menstrual education and provide affordable menstrual tools to the public. In 2018 the team created the documentary, Period. End of Sentence which won them an academy award. Today, the organization partners with other NGOs in low-income regions around the globe to implement pad machines, provide washable pad programs and conduct menstrual hygiene management workshops in their respective regions.
In 2017, Manjit K. Gill started the first registered period charity in the UK and India. Gill has more than 30 years of experience in international business and has contributed to the success of 7 different startups prior to her work with Binti. The organization’s efforts began in India where they taught women how to make sustainable and affordable pads. After realizing that there was a global stigma attached to the menstrual cycle, Binti then established education programs in India, Africa, the UK, and the US. Today, they have enlisted volunteers in 12 countries such as, The Gambia, Pakistan, and Canada. These volunteers play an instrumental role in teaching menstruating individuals to make their own pads, increasing access to menstrual tools, educating others on the menstrual cycle, and decreasing the stigmatization of menstruation. Gill and her organization have received several awards and nominations for their world-changing work, including the Points of Light Award in 2019 and the London Faith & Belief Community Award in 2020.
In a society where menstruation remains a taboo subject, Celeste Mergens, Melissa Berton and Manjit K. Gill are confidently and passionately targeting menstrual equity. Thanks to these brilliant women, a safer future is being created for all menstruating individuals.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeseq/2022/02/01/new-year-same-old-fight-its-2022-yet-more-th an-half-of-the-population-is-still-paying-the-price-for-a-natural-bodily-function/?sh=70be6e872f7 4