Meridian woman promotes education through feminine hygiene

Posted at 9:27 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-29 23:52:21-05

Kayla Rich, along with the help of hundreds of Treasure Valley volunteers, has been hard at work sewing a brighter future for girls around the world. 

Rich is the co-director of the Meridian chapter of Days for Girls, an international non-profit organization that provides girls around the world with a kit full of reusable feminine hygiene products.

"Their motto is 'Every girl. Everywhere. Period," Rich says. "[They] should have the menstrual products that they need so that they can stay in school and stay at work."

Rich says many girls and women in developing nations lack the money and resources to buy and use disposable products for their periods.

"They start to fall behind because five days out of every twenty-eight they stay at home," she says. "After a few months, they get too far behind on their school work and then they drop out."

Days for Girls has developed a solution to this problem. They specialize in creating and delivering kits with hand-sewn reusable pads that can be washed and worn again.

The kits also include a panty-liner to hold the pads in place, soap, and even a few pairs of underwear. All of these necessities come in a colorful bag.

Rich says she was inspired to start a local chapter after a personal experience on a mission trip to Haiti.

"I experienced a period that I wasn't expecting," she says. "Every good traveler would have put something in their bag. I didn't, and I felt for just a day or two what it feels like to not have what you need to take care of your own body."

Rich has since returned to Haiti with the kits and tools to provide classes and education to locals about menstruation. 

"I was also really surprised about how many men in Haiti were really interested in the classes and would come up afterward and ask us for their daughter, for their wives, for their sisters, and it was really touching to me," Rich says. "They wanted to make sure the women in their lives had what they needed too. It's not just a female issue; it's not just a girl thing."

Over the last eight months, more than 600 volunteers have helped make 750 kits for women around the world.

Rich says she also hopes her organization plays a role in reducing the stigma around menstruation locally and abroad. 

"It's 2016, right?" Rich says. "This whole planet has been populated by periods and it's okay to talk about. There's no shame in it, but we just have to start the conversation and set the tone and realize if we're comfortable talking about it then other people are too;then some needs can be met."

For more on how to volunteer or donate to the local chapter of Days for Girls, find them on Facebook.