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The Action Thread Part Two


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WATER & SANITATION

These Kits Provide Menstrual Health Education and Jobs for Incarcerated People

“It’s a basic human need that we’re meeting.”


Why Global Citizens Should Care
People affected by period poverty all around the world lack access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and/or waste management. To end extreme poverty, we must ensure all people have access to water and sanitation in correctional facilities. You can help us take action on this issue here

There are currently 80 incarcerated women who don’t have the resources to manage their periods with pride and dignity at the Mawelawela Women’s Correctional Institution in eSwatini, a small country in Southern Africa. 

That's why this weekend, Days for Girls International (DfG), an organization that offers menstrual health solutions to underserved people around the world, is setting up an enterprise in Mawelawela to help incarcerated people sustainably take care of themselves, and their communities, with education and products. 

On Saturday, April Haberman, a DfG development officer based in Washington State, is taking her daughter and five other high school girls to bring sustainable menstrual hygiene management kits to women at Mawelawela. The eSwatini country director will follow up on their visit and teach the women how to sew and assemble kits to generate income. The program will be the first to give incarcerated people a chance to earn a living while in a correctional facility by making the kits. Once they leave, they have some savings and a skillset to provide for themselves. 

Take Action: Prioritizing Menstrual Hygiene Management is Key to Ensuring Girls Can Stay in School

 

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“The government doesn’t supply anything,” Haberman told Global Citizen, referring to the lack of menstrual hygiene management and personal hygiene products in eSwatini correctional facilities. 

“If family and friends aren’t supporting menstrual hygiene management, they resort to using the mattresses or newspapers to manage their periods,” she explained. 

When incarcerated people don’t have access to adequate menstrual hygiene management, which is a common occurrence, they are at risk of infections, the spread of diseases, and causing plumbing issues. At least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). The exact number is unknown, but the lack of resources causes many young girls to miss school, and women to miss work, which harms their potential for economic growth. 

 

Together, with the help of volunteers and donors, we are able to give days of dignity, health and education back to girls all over the world!#DfGSpotlight #BalanceforBetter

 
 
 
 

DfG consulted thousands of girls and women around the world and went through 27 iterations to design several versions of menstrual hygiene kits. Many people don't have access to clean water to manage their periods safely, which is why the kits include waterproof shields and absorbent liners that use little water and limit waste. The products last three years, dry quickly, and save money compared to using disposable menstrual products. Deluxe versions of the kit come with washcloths, soap, and underwear. 

Read More: Maine Congressman Claims Free Period Products Don't Belong in Jail Because It's Not a 'Country Club'

The organization isn’t only focused on menstrual products. DfG doesn’t distribute kits anywhere without an ambassador of women’s health training, which covers basic anatomy, puberty, menstruation, sexually transmitted infections, self-defense, and trafficking. 

DfG first started servicing incarcerated people at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, Washington. Washington State provides incarcerated people with period products, but five years ago, the organization visited a correctional facility there on a whim to teach incarcerated women how to make kits. The incarcerated women responded well to the initiative and the program grew from there.
DfG_at_womensprison_WA_group photo.jpgDfG women at a Washington correctional facility.
Image: Courtesy of Days for Girls.

Now at the Washington Corrections Center, incarcerated people can't wait to join the program. In order to sew for DfG, they need to have three years of good behavior in a row to ensure the safety of those working and other incracerated people as they use sewing machines and other dangerous tools. 

Incarcerated people all around the world –– in countries such as Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, as well as within the US –– are receiving DfG kits. Kit distribution depends on the size of the correctional facility, but DfG usually delivers between 50 and several hundred. The organization says it reaches over 1 million women and girls and over 110 countries, and it has over 15 enterprise leadership programs where people learn how to generate income by making and selling kits. 

 

These rockstar women (and many others not pictured) have been working so hard. Their new enterprise in Senegal made 60 kits just in the first two weeks of establishment and they already received an order to make 200 more! Congrats team! #dfgspotlight

 
 
 
 

One DfG advocate, Julie Tsoukalas, focuses on working with the Deaf community in Zambia, where harmful myths about menstruation circulate. 

“If a male member of your family sees your period blood, they will go blind,” is one belief Tsouk heard. People who menstruate in Zambia sometimes resort to transactional sex or sexual favors to pay for or receive sanitary products, Tsouk said. She also visited one correctional facility in Zambia in January, to distribute kits where the water is shut off at night, making it difficult for incarcerated people to manage their periods safely.

Haberman recalls speaking during a presentation about a Washington correctional facility’s contributions to nonprofit organizations over the course of the year. An incarcerated woman told Haberman one word included in the slide about DfG’s impact resonated with her.

DfG_at_womensprison_WA_sewing instruction1.jpgIncarcerated people sewing DfG kits at a Washington correctional facility.
Image: Courtesy of Days for Girls.

“The word that stuck out for me was ‘freedom,’” Haberman said the woman told her. “I love sewing for you because I don’t have my freedom any longer, but sewing for Days for Girls and giving this kit to someone else, I can give freedom to someone else, and that makes me happy.”

DfG also distributes kits to people who are preparing to leave correctional facilities. Once incarcerated people are released, their options are limited, Haberman said. If they have a criminal record it may be harder to find employment, and they don’t always have the income to purchase menstrual hygiene products.

Talking about menstrual hygiene management is the first step toward educating others, normalizing menstruation, and getting people involved in advocacy, Haberman said.

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Thirty @TVAelementary students are assembling 100 washable feminine hygiene kits to girls and women in Ghana - in support of Days for Girls international charitable organization. @CTVWindsor

 
 
 
 

“We often say people would rather talk about diarrhea than periods,” she said. “Toilet paper is provided when you have diarrhea –– imagine having diarrhea five straight days and not having toilet paper. It’s the same thing when a woman menstruates for an average of five days.”

Haberman encourages people to host fundraisers, donate, join one of DfG’s 1,000 chapters, or start one to stand up for menstrual equity. 

“It’s not a luxury,” Haberman said. “It’s a basic human need that we’re meeting and it brings dignity and better health.”

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MARCH 4, 2019

 

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GIRLS & WOMEN

This Airline Will No Longer Force Female Cabin Crew to Wear Makeup

It’s a “significant” change in an industry plagued by sexual harassment and objectification.


Why Global Citizens Should Care
It might sound like a small step, but in an industry where sexual harassment is “rampant”, an end to the objectification of female flight attendants is an important step towards achieving UN Global Goal 5 for gender equality — including an end to violence towards women in all its forms. Join the movement by taking action here to help achieve gender equality. 

Traditionally, female cabin crew members have faced strict demands in terms of how they should present themselves: perfect hair, layers of makeup, and uniforms designed to make them look as attractive and polished as possible. 

But now, UK-based airline Virgin Atlantic has announced changes that indicate the industry is beginning to move away from its highly sexualised and objectifying attitude to female flight attendants.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts by Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

Take Action: Sign Petition

 
 
 
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In partnership with: Equality Now and CHIME FOR CHANGE

Female cabin crew have reportedly been told that they don’t have to wear makeup, and also now have the option of wearing trousers as standard, rather than having to have a request approved. 

While it might not sound like a particularly groundbreaking announcement, it's important in an industry famed for its objectification and, frankly, sexism. 

A survey last year, by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), revealed that sexual harassment is “rampant” in the industry — with nearly 70% of flight attendants having experienced sexual harassment at some point in their career. 

Related StoriesFeb. 25, 2019Menstrual Health and FGM Will Finally Be Taught in England's Schools by 2020

Of those, 68% said it had happened three or more times in the past year, and a third said it had happened five times, according to Business Insider.

Meanwhile, nearly one-fifth of respondents said they had been sexually harassed physically by a passenger in the past year — and over 40% of those said it had happened three or more times. 

“They also report being subjected to passengers’ explicit sexual fantasies, propositions, request for sexual ‘favours’, and pornographic videos and pictures,” said the union. 

Related StoriesFeb. 7, 2017Flight Attendant Rescues Human Trafficking Victim With Note Left on Toilet Mirror

Sara Nelson, president of the AFA, said: “The time when flight attendants were objectified in airline marketing and people joked about ‘coffee, tea, or me’ needs to be permanently grounded. #TimesUp for the industry to put an end to its sexist past.”

Virgin’s executive vice-president of customer, Mark Anderson, said in a statement to HuffPost: “We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this.

“Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work,” he added. “Helping people to be themselves is core to our desire to be the most loved travel company.” 

Related StoriesJan. 25, 2017Thomson Reuters FoundationWomen Shouldn't Be Asked to Wear High Heels or Make-up at Work, Says UK Report

If staff do choose to wear makeup, there is still a colour palette of lipstick and foundation in the airline guidelines.

Most international airlines do still tell their staff what type of makeup to buy and wear, according to the Guardian; however, easyJet and Ryanair are reportedly more relaxed. 

Meanwhile British Airways still reportedly requires women to wear makeup — at least lipstick and blusher, to “groom and maintain” their eyebrows, and conceal “obvious blemishes … wherever possible” — but they are allowed to wear trousers. 

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GIRLS AND WOMEN

ABLE x ONE: Be inspired to fight for equality everywhere, every day

29 March 2019 4:17PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO

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Take action for women everywhere

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Do you know how long it will take us to achieve gender equality at the current rate of progress? 108 years.

We know that women and girls everywhere deserve to have access to the opportunities that will empower them to thrive. That’s why we’re on a mission to amp up the fight for gender equality everywhere this year.

P1030722.jpgTo help us make progress towards our goal, we partnered with ABLE — a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women — to launch two new products.

The ABLE x ONE Alem passport wallet and ABLE x ONE Martha pouch are hand-crafted by female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia. They’re engraved with statements inspired by our #PovertyIsSexist campaign and were createdwith ABLE to remind you of the world we’re fighting to build every day.

To celebrate our exciting partnership, we’re giving away 10 ABLE x ONE Martha Pouches and 10 ABLE x ONE Alem Passport Wallets right now! Head on over to our Facebook and Instagram pages and enter for your chance to win.

P.S. If you can’t wait to win one of these, head on over to the ONE Store to get one now.

Full giveaway terms & conditions can be viewed here.

Take action for women everywhere

Dear World Leaders,

We are the women at the frontlines of the fight against gender inequality and global poverty.

Every day we see the determination and dignity of girls and women facing down the toughest challenges. We see real advances and the power of people to achieve change. We won’t surrender this fight, but we need you to play your part.

You promised to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030, but at the current rate of progress, this will take 108 years. This is unacceptable. We need genuine progress, not grand promises.

We want implementation and accountability at every level - from this year’s G7 Summit to the Global Fund Replenishment; from our African Union leaders to our community leaders. We will be looking for your actions not your words; for funding to follow promises; and policy to turn into practice. It’s both the right and the smart thing to do for everyone.

To accelerate progress men must demand change with us so that we rise united not divided. And women must have a seat at the decision-making table – because you can’t change what you don’t see.

We’re not looking for your sympathy, we’re demanding your action. Because none of us are equal until all of us are equal.

Yours,

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STORIES
 
1553719766788.jpgGayle E. SmithMar 28, 2019
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EXPERT VOICES

Cyclone-lashed southern Africa needs more support for recovery

people wading through floodwaters in Mozambique
 
People wading through flood waters in Buzi, Mozambique, after Cyclone Idai. Photo: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

After making landfall earlier this month, Cyclone Idai caused devastating flooding and destruction throughout Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, leaving up to 1,000 people feared dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The big picture: The UN called Idai "one of the worst natural disasters to hit southern Africa in living memory." Shortages of food and clean water and the risk of contracting fatal diseases like cholera or malaria only make the situation worse.

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Details: Like the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the post-Idai emergency didn't initially receive the attention crises of this scale often do, though the international humanitarian system has begun to respond.

  • Farmers have lost crops and livestock in the floods, and many impacted areas were already facing food insecurity. In response, the UN's World Food Programme has sent 20 tons of high-energy food, but more supplements will be needed.
  • Regional communications and transportation remain major challenges. Local officials are rushing to restore power while government workers slowly repair and reopen roads that were washed away.
  • Experts have warned of a "ticking time bomb" of disease as survivors are exposed to bacteria-infested flood waters. The World Health Organization has sent 900,000 oral cholera vaccines to the region (at least 5 cases of cholera have already been reported) and is preparing to send 900,000 bed nets in anticipation of a spike in malaria.

Where it stands:

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has authorized $700,000 in emergency assistance — an amount likely to climb — and deployed a response team to Mozambique to determine the extent of the damage. Personnel from U.S. Africa Command have also been dispatched.
  • Nonprofit groups from Save the Children to the International Committee of the Red Cross have stepped up to deliver supplies, provide health services and help reunite families.

The bottom line: Even the smallest shocks to regions like southern Africa can trigger vicious cycles of poverty, violence and conflict — and the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai was anything but small. Hundreds of thousands of people now depend on a robust international response that will need to be sustained from emergency management through to rebuilding.

Gayle E. Smith is the president and CEO of the ONE Campaign and a former administrator of USAID.

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HEALTH

These health workers are fighting TB one community at a time

19 March 2019 4:23PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO

SIGN THE PETITION

Tell world leaders to step up the fight against preventable diseases

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Tuberculosis (TB) is the number one infectious killer in the world, but around 36% of people with TB still go undiagnosed every year. To help step up the fight against TB, countries — like Ethiopia — are adopting community health worker programs.

MG_2798_e.jpg

At Mekelle Health Sciences College in Ethiopia, a class for health extension workers strengthens their skills as providers of services in their villages.

Ethiopia’s National Health Extension Program was founded in 2004 with funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. At the time, there was a critical shortage of health services, with a ratio of one health worker per 40,000 citizens. The extension program was introduced to help bridge the gap between rural communities and health care by training health extension workers (HEWs) to provide services at a community level.

By 2016, 38,000 HEWs — the majority of whom are women — were providing health services to 15,000 villages across Ethiopia.

Health Workers in Action

Every day, HEWs — trained for a full year in basic health delivery — trek through Ethiopian communities, knocking on doors to speak with local residents and check on their health. They are trained to conduct basic health tests for preventable diseases like TB, maintain family health records, provide treatment for diseases and encourage communities to use contraceptives and get vaccinated.

Y1C0657_58143.jpg

Health extension worker Workalem talks to villagers during one her frequent visits to this rural community.

Workalem Haile, a HEW in Southern Ethiopia’s Chama Hembecho village, manages the local health centre which provides care to over 2,200 families. She tests patients for disease and provides long-term care and support as her patients go through treatment.

Y1C0641_58141.jpg

Workalem visits a husband and wife who are both HIV-positive and explains proper use of antiretroviral treatment.

Abinet was one of Workalem’s patients. “At the beginning, I thought it was just a common cold but I had a very serious cough. I couldn’t sleep late at night,” he said. His condition did not improve with traditional medicines, so, with help, he made his way to the local clinic where he was tested for TB. After Abinet’s results came back positive and he was prescribed the proper medication, Workalem visited him regularly over the next 6 months to support him with his treatment. Abinet says, “My health has improved because of Workalem’s help. I would like to thank her very much.”

The Impact

By 2016, over 95% of Ethiopia’s population had access to primary health care resources within 10 kilometres. Now, communities are better educated about how to limit the spread of communicable and preventable diseases, like TB, and have better access to treatment. Plus, health issues are addressed earlier and communities have better access to effective long-term care. Life expectancy in Ethiopia has increased to 64 years, jumping by 10 years since the program’s launch in 2004.

Y1C4261_58877.jpg

Sister Eden, another Ethiopian HEW, regularly visits 50-year-old tuberculosis patient Desta in her home to oversee the final months of her TB care.

Excitingly, the introduction of the program didn’t just improve people’s health. The HEW program shifted gender roles and cultural norms in Ethiopia by creating a wealth of new opportunities for women to enter the workforce. “In a country where unemployment is still high, finding fulfilling work can be life changing. The health extension worker program has transformed the lives of thousands of workers who have become breadwinners for their families,” said Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s former minister of health.

The Global Fund

To make sure the Global Fund can continue its critical work, like funding Ethiopia’s National Health Extension Program, it will be hosting its sixth replenishment conference in October. They’re asking world leaders and private investors to come together and help save 16 million lives over the next 3 years by investing a minimum of US$14 billion.

This is the bold ambition the world needs to get us on track to stop the spread of diseases like tuberculosis — and it’s why we’re calling on world leaders to #StepUpTheFight by fully financing the Global Fund.

Add your name now to tell world leaders they must back this bold initiative this year.

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