2018 Project Focus: Women's Health and Education in Nepal

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At Somebody’s Mama, we look for project partners who identify problems and turn ideas into action. We believe that big change often begins with simple solutions.

Since 2008, Days for Girls International (DfGI) has been part of the movement to change attitudes and practices around menstruation. Their mission of reaching “Every Girl. Everywhere. Period.” has spread to 124 countries on 6 continents. Their work encompasses all four of our areas of focus—women’s health, education, economic empowerment, and ending violence against women.

We are thrilled to announce that we will be granting DfGI $15,000 to help their programs in Western Nepal. Following a terrible earthquake in 2015, DfGI opened an office to provide washable pads and education in Kathmandu—Nepal’s capital and largest city. As DfGI worked more closely with local team members, they came to learn about a practice known as chhaupadi—a deeply rooted tradition that finds women and girls sent to small huts or sheds while menstruating. This isolation and stigma often leaves them at risk for snake bites, severe weather, violence, and even death. Although the Nepali government has outlawed the practice, it is still prevalent in rural western Nepal.

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After hearing from local team members who experienced chhaupadi growing up, DfGI sent a team to a village called Kalipot in Western Nepal to find out more. Upon arrival, they discovered that other kind-hearted people had donated reusable sanitary pads, but because there was no education component to the generosity, DfGI staff members found that some pads were being used as potholders and handkerchiefs. Because education is an essential component to these projects, DfGI launched “Breaking Taboos” in Kalikot. With the help of local leaders, they have been training women and girls how to use, make, and educate others about reusable pads. This powerful team of women understands that menstruation should never involve shame and is something to be celebrated.

Local leaders not only conduct distributions and provide health education but have also started conversations around the need to change chhaupadi traditions, moving women and girls from isolated sheds to their own homes. Leaders use DfGI curriculum to teach safe practices and combat misinformation. To date, DfGI has distributed over one million DfGI Kits and health classes worldwide, including 1,900 in Nepal.

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Many women and girls in the community have had the opportunity to attend various DfGI trainings, including a “Make Your Own” version.  One participant, 18-year-old Namrata, said,

“I got the opportunity to attend MYO training. I received DfGI sanitary kits, which were very easy to use and effective as well. This is the first time I had ever seen this kind of pad distributed here in Kalikot. Before DfGI health training I used to stay in a shed during my period. Through the training, I came to know that my period is a natural process, and it’s beautiful. As a trainer, I am able to speak boldly in front of people. I live in my house in a separate room, instead of a shed, and I do respect my parents, and I also eat nutritious food during my period.”

DfGI understands that cultural shifts can only occur if they honor traditions while changing extreme practices. We love that the evolution of thought is happening because local women and girls are taking the lead with bold conviction.

Education empowers.

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So, how are we joining with DfGI to be part of the solution? By granting them $15,000 for their “Breaking Taboos” project. That amount will help them expand the project from Kalikot into other sub-districts.

What impact will your donation have?

$10 = health education and one DfGI kit lasting up to 3 years for one girl

$25 = 25 meters of flannel for local women to produce liners for 34 kits

$50 = underwear for 125 kits

$200 = a treadle sewing machine for local women to sew kits

$350 = sponsorship of a health training/talking circle for a classroom of 30 girls

$500 = kits and training for 50 girls

$1,500 = all training and programing costs for a local team for one month

We have the opportunity to come alongside our friends in Nepal to address one of the most basic parts of being a woman. Please join us by gathering your friends for an in-person Love Club or by giving now. (To start an online Love Club, choose “Become a Fundraiser” at the giving link below.)