Women across the globe may act differently as far as cultures go, but there are some basic things that tie us all together...basic things that are keeping some women and girls trapped in a cycle of being uneducated and impoverished.

What is it?

Aunt Flo. The Crimson Wave. That time of the month. Your period.

Whatever you call it, all of us ladies deal with it, and we generally all hate it, but for most of us, it doesn't stop us from doing much other than maybe sticking to our diets (peanut butter cups for everyone!)

Who thinks of tampons or maxi pads as a privilege? Certainly not me, until I learned from a family friend that girls and women in impoverished communities don't have any kind of feminine hygiene products. They don't have the money to purchase them or the trash services to dispose of soiled ones.

So what do those women use? Leaves, mattress stuffing, newspaper, basically whatever they have, which causes serious infections (and is probably as effective as well...nothing.) Girls are forced to go to school with obvious stains, and I'm sure we can all imagine the humiliation factor of that...combined with how taboo the subject is in many places anyway.

Kenyan girls in school
Paula Bronstein, Getty Images

And it gets worse. Lots of women just wait it out in their rooms, missing work and school, every single month, because of a natural bodily function they have no control over.

Some girls are even sexually exploited in exchange for access to basic supplies for hygiene.

How People Are Helping

So, how can people like you and I help women break the cycle of poverty, and keep them in work and school and free from sexual exploitation in the name of being sanitary?

It's an international charity, where women put together reusable hygiene kits that can be sent to women and girls in need.

Hygiene kits
Karen Rinaldi

All across the globe, women are making hygiene kits. Each kit has 2 hand-sewn fabric shields that girls can snap into their underwear, eight square flannel (super absorbent!) cloths that are tri-folded to fit into the shields, a small bar of soap, a washcloth, a pair of panties, and 2 Ziploc bags for the girls to wash everything in, along with instructions on using the kit. It is all put inside a hand-made drawstring bag so it can be carried to work or school discreetly.

Days for Girls
These hand-sewn pieces act as reusable, washable maxi pads for women who don't have access to sanitary products. The colors and patterns help to hide any embarrassing staining. (Karen Rinaldi)

With proper care and cleaning, each kit can last up to 3 years. That's 180 days of work or school that these women would have otherwise missed out on.

Even if you don't know how to sew, they'll teach you, or you can help by cutting fabric, assembling the bags, compiling supplies, or just gathering donations.

If you're interested in helping out, reach out to the Days for Girls Jersey Shore chapter. They are having a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Belmar First Aid building at 414 9th Avenue in Belmar where you can learn more about the charity, and find out about upcoming meetings/sewing events. If you can't make it to the meeting, you can e-mail Tina Plantamura at njshore@daysforgirls.org.


More From 94.3 The Point