Two women who want to start a local chapter of a global initiative to provide disadvantaged young women with free, reusable sanitary protection, have found their contributions are needed much nearer to home.
MP Tracey Martin and Warkworth Business & Professional Women (BPW) president Sally Smith had both heard of Days For Girls, an organisation that makes and provides feminine hygiene kits, and were keen to start making them here. But they hadn’t realised that the kits, which are given to girls who either can’t afford or don’t have access to commercial sanitary protection, would be needed locally.
“When we started talking about this, we believed the need would be in the Pacific Islands and maybe the Far North,” Tracey Martin says. “But in conversation we said maybe we should ask around here, and we found there were people right here in Warkworth who needed them.”
Each Days For Girls kit consists of a cotton drawstring bag, two brushed cotton liners, eight brushed cotton pads, two pairs of cotton knickers, a bar of soap, a cotton flannel and two resealable plastic bags. The pads and liners are washable and can last for two to three years. Sally Smith soon mustered a group of dedicated local sewers, who have since stitched and compiled 17 kits, all of which have found a home in Warkworth.
“I talked about this at a BPW meeting and contacted local Tuvalu and Kiribati women, and found there was a need here in the Pasifika community,” she says. “There is also a postpartum kit that can be made, so we’ll be talking to the birthing centres in Warkworth and Wellsford to see if they might be needed, too.”
Tracey says although Days For Girls originally started as a means to help girls in Africa who were missing school just for lack of sanitary protection, the supply and cost of feminine hygiene products is a much wider issue, and is causing concern here in New Zealand.
“Young women are taking sanitary pads and turning them into tampons, because they’re trying to make do,” she says. “But they’re not sterile and can cause infection.”
The Days For Girls sewing group meets on the first Thursday of each month at Sally Smith’s Sandspit home. They are currently looking for donations of the following items to put into kits, which can be dropped into Tracey Martin’s office in Riverside Arcade, Warkworth: new dark cotton knickers, all sizes; cotton face flannels (not microfibre); bars of soap; medium resealable snap lock plastic bags. The group would also love a die-cutting machine to make the specially-shaped liners and pads, since all cutting is being done by hand at present.
Info: Tracey Martin’s office 425 7360.