AS Friday marks International Women’s Day, it provides us with the opportunity to recognise those women who play an integral role in our community.
One such collection of women who deserve celebrating is Day For Girls Mareeba, a volunteer group who meet on the first Saturday of every month to create washable feminine hygiene kits for girls and women around the world.
Days For Girls Mareeba is a chapter of Days For Girls International, which is a global movement that was created in 2008 after humanitarian Celeste Mergens identified a problem on a trip to Kenya.
Days For Girls has grown to where it now operates in 120 states in 17 countries, and is supported by over 1,000 chapters and teams who construct and assemble the kits.
The Days For Girls Mareeba chapter has been operating since 2013, and it is an initiative that continues to go from strength to strength on the Tablelands.
“The support from the community since we started more than five years ago has been amazing,” Days For Girls Team Leader Lesa Pershouse said.
“We have provided girls and women in developing parts of the world with more than 1,000 kits and much-needed access to menstrual health education, and that is something we are extremely proud of.”
Ms Pershouse said ensuring girls and women have access to sanitary products and the appropriate education is paramount.
“We find that a lot of girls aren’t going to school and women aren’t going to work in developing countries when they are experiencing their period,” she said.
“So not only does having access to reusable menstrual kits make an enormous social impact, it also provides a number of economic benefits.”
While a large portion of their work has been done overseas, of which includes supplying kits to girls and women in East Timor, Nepal and Papua New Guinea, fellow Days For Girls Mareeba Team Leader Tracy Cockrell said their chapter also has plans to further assist developing areas in Australia.
“We have worked with Days For Girls Darwin in the past to provide kits to those in Kakadu,” she said.
“Added to that, we are currently putting feelers out to aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, so there is no doubt there’s a need for it here in Australia too.
“This work is so important because it’s part of the tool kit in addressing generational poverty.”
Ms Pershouse and Ms Cockrell both took the opportunity to thank those who have contributed to the group’s success since its inception.
“Firstly, Tracy and I would like to thank the community for their wonderful support over the years, whether it is in the form of people volunteering their time or through donations,” Ms Pershouse said.
“We would especially like to mention Mareeba and Atherton Rotary, who have donated on multiple occasions.
“We also want to recognise the husbands of the women in the Days For Girls Mareeba group, they are extremely supportive and help out a lot behind the scenes.
“And lastly we would like to recognise Rita Tessaro, Leeann Feltrin and Dr Marg Purcell, they have been stalwarts of this group for so long and their work is instrumental.”
Ms Pershouse said not only has Days For Girls Mareeba been a fantastic initiative for the girls and women they help, she noted that it has also assisted in creating a community network on the Tablelands.
“This has given all of us local women the opportunity to come together when we otherwise wouldn’t have,” she said.
“I think that’s what makes Days For Girls Mareeba so special.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with Days For Girls Mareeba, whether it is to donate or if you’re wanting to be a part of the group, you can do so by contacting Lesa Pershouse on 0419 741 101 or Tracy Cockrell on 0400 924 296.
For those interested in donating, Ms Pershouse said Days For Girls Mareeba would love donations of face washers and size 8-14 cotton ladies underwear in dark colours.
Ms Pershouse also encouraged members of the public to like their Facebook page.