SOROPTIMIST International is a worldwide volunteer service specifically catering for equal rights and gender equality for all women locally and worldwide, they sit on the UN council making sure that the voices of women and girls are heard.
On May 25 at their recent Regional Conference, Soroptimist International awarded an outstanding local volunteer the award of ‘Women of the year’. Lesa Pershouse co-director of the local Mareeba ‘Days for Girls’ organisation was awarded ‘International Tropical Tablelands Women of the year’ due to her instrumental infl uence in the construction, production and distribution of washable menstrual kits for disadvantaged women and girls in developing countries.
The volunteer group ‘Days for Girls’ provides kits to young women and girls in countries such as; Sudan, India, Kenya, Papa New Guinea, Cambodia and many more. ‘Days for Girls’ aims to provide equity for young women and girls surrounding school, work and other opportunities by providing them with washable and portable menstruation kits.
Lesa said she was “incredibly humbled” upon receiving the award.
“There are a lot of other people doing really good things as well,” she said
“I feel very grateful to have received this award.
“I think it’s an acknowledgement of not only my work but the girls in my team and the whole community who have supported us.”
‘Days for Girls’ are aiming to provide women and girls with the opportunities to learn and work uninhibited in order to live a fulfilling life.
“A barrier for young women in developing countries is their period,” she said.
“They’ve got nothing to use so they do down behind a tree or down the river.
“In some countries they have menstruation huts where girls and women have to go and sit and be away from their family.
“Some women and girls are even blackmailed and extorted in exchange for hygiene products in these countries.”
‘Days for Girls’ are a worldwide organisation that provides women with the things they need to live their lives relativity uninhibited. Lesa was full of praise for her outstanding team.
“I’ve received the award for transforming the lives of young women and girls but I can’t do it alone,” she said.
“I’ve got a great team of ladies.
“We meet once a month at the Mareeba State High School sowing room and we sew and pull kits together, source our own material and fundraise for that.”
The ‘Days for Girls Mareeba’ organisation is made up of a variety of volunteers and five key members. Those volunteers include; Rita Tessaro, Tracy Cockrell, Marg Purcell, Leeann Feltrin and Lesa Pershouse. On the first Saturday of each month the organisation gets together in the MSHS sewing room to create the kits.
“We get about one or two new volunteers every month,” Lesa said
“I could safely say that we have at least 40 women volunteering that at various times will stop by and help out.
“On average we have about 15 to 20 ladies that come every month.”
Lesa is looking to expand ‘Days for Girls’ to incorporate the southern and northern regions of the Tablelands providing more opportunities for those who want to volunteer. Sewing is not a requirement to volunteer there are numerous opportunities available to help out including undie rolling, cutting out material and more. ‘Days for Girls’ currently have a Krispy Kreme Fundraiser to help support them with procuring supplies for the kits.
For those interested in volunteering contact ‘Days for Girls Mareeba’ through their facebook page.