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Days for Girls - Breaking the Silence

Girls still face shame and silence when they start their period. Days for Girls is changing the narrative to one of celebration and dignity.

Photo of Sandy Clark
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Tell us about your vision for this project: Share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years

By 2022 our goal is to reach 6 million women and girls with sustainable MHM solutions and health education so that women and girls everywhere will never feel shame or face isolation when they have their period. To achieve this goal we have launched Enterprises worldwide who are carrying forth this goal. This model will ensure that every woman and girl is able to thrive within her community so that every girl, everywhere, has what she needs and feels confident, period.

Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?

The Days for Girls Enterprise Team includes our CEO, 4 global programs staff, and 23 regional Center staff dedicated to developing and implementing Enterprise Program systems, curricula, monitoring, and evaluation. This team works in partnership with our Enterprises around the globe. Partners provide the in-depth knowledge of local communities, direct sales, educational outreach, and data collection, while the DfG Enterprise Team provides the framework for assessing challenges and solutions, and making sense of the global dataset. The team is dispersed in USA, Uganda, Nepal, Guatemala, with regular enterprise visits.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

The first DfG Center in Uganda facilitated testing of the model, as the global team & vision grew. 2015 marked tremendous and rapid scale on an international level. The significant uptick in partner demand meant juggling program development alongside program growth. This required learning & adapting on the go, and presented unique challenges for evaluation of various iterations. Regular monitoring & partner meetings resulted in changes to curricula, and even to program structure.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

DfG is not afraid to tackle big changes or constructive feedback from partners, as evidenced by the iterations of both pad design and curricula. 2016 and 2017 have been instrumental in developing change management practices for the organization, and include deployment of our custom-designed M&E tools, and quarterly data-driven review meetings, including leadership from our global teams and Center leaders (Uganda, Ghana, Nepal).

How long have you been working on the project?

9

What year was your organization or group started?

2008

How many full time staff are needed to implement your idea?

35

What most attracted you to the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge?

Your quest for big ideas that can go to scale and have a radical approach is what attracted us to this opportunity. We know that we can't achieve this goal alone and building partnerships is at the core of our success. Others who can provide feedback on areas where we face challenges would be an incredible benefit not only to our organization but to the women and girls that need MHM solutions.

Share the URL for your Business Model Canvas Here

https://next.canvanizer.com/canvas/rmsnlovOEZvS6 The DfG business model utilizes partnerships with Enterprises on the community level to increase long-term access to DfG Kits and women's health education.

Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply

  • mHealth
  • Last Mile Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodities
  • Data
  • Innovative Finance

What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)

Education is essential in changing the narrative from shame to celebration, and is more powerful and effective than simply passing out MHM supplies. When local leaders teach girls about puberty, they are setting in place the ability to have further critical conversations. It shows that SHE matters.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)

We face a number of challenges, which is to be expected when scaling at this level. The first is our supply chain. To maintain quality, comfort, and a product that will last 3 years, we use materials such as PUL and flannel. Finding these fabrics in certain countries at a reasonable price has proven to be a challenge. Our second challenge has been in fulfilling requests to bring DfG to new communities and locations at the last mile. We have more requests than we can manage as word gets out.

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Direct beneficiaries are the millions of women and girls who receive DfG Kits and education around the world. Another set of equally important beneficiaries are the women who are educated and are able to start their own Micro-Enterprise through the DfG Enterprise Program. Some of these women provide a full business suite including sewing and selling DfG Kits, and providing education in women's health, others are involved in education and/or sales (not sewing). As we have seen in current Micro-Enterprises, many sell to NGOs, church groups, or directly to women in their local market. This model allows for in-country leadership to spread awareness and provides an affordable, culturally appropriate, and high quality solution to menstrual hygiene since each DfG Kit last up to 3 years. Along with the Kit, DfG teach other skills such as soap making to add a profit margin to Enterprises.

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

We envision a world where every girl will know before she starts her period what is happening with her body, and will feel a sense of dignity and confidence during this monumental time in her life. We also believe that local communities can solve their own problems if given the right education and resources. We believe that this is more than just one program or product. It is an entire movement that is underway to shift attitudes and behaviors.

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

Days for Girls International is dedicated to strengthening girls' sense of dignity and self-esteem by making and providing sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions and health education available around the world. Our global vision is to ensure that every girl and woman will have ready, feasible access to reusable hygiene supplies by 2024 so that they can fully participate at every level of society. Our hybrid model combines volunteerism and social enterprise.

What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)

DfG uses a two-pronged approach 1) our global volunteer network of 1,070 Chapters and Teams; and 2) Micro-Enterprise programs. The volunteer program brings together women, girls and communities while raising awareness and seeding new markets. Micro-Enterprises provide local leaders the opportunity to start and lead sustainable businesses with a new income stream. DfG provides both MHM solutions and education. Our scale and reach is unique -- growing this movement at a rate based on demand.

What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?

  • Convenience / Accessibility: Making products accessible

What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)

Every woman and girl has ready access to a MHM solution that fits her needs. She is never without, has a better understanding of her health, and is comfortable discussing health issues with a trusted and educated leader in her community. The fear and shame surrounding menstruation ends and local communities adopt solutions that work for them, while having the resources and education to make this possible. Every Girl. Everywhere. PERIOD.

How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)

Days for Girls has expanded our data-gathering protocols in the past year. In 2016, DfG launched a new monitoring and evaluation toolkit, using Kobo Toolbox, an open-source platform. The surveys DfG uses are designed to collect data on the ease of use of the DfG Kit (DfG’s set of affordable, washable pads) and the current level of need for menstrual hygiene management solutions, as well as the impact of the DfG Kit on areas such as school attendance and self-esteem.

What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)

All of our 1,000 Chapters and Teams have come to us by word-of-mouth and our in-country Micro-Enterprises have also come from referrals. We are working on a new marketing plan to expand our reach to local women and girls for Micro-Enterprise sales. We are also active on social media.

Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)

Our partners come from a diverse array of individuals and organizations. Partners are volunteers, NGOs, governments, and companies. DfG even has a volunteer sewing circle at a women’s prison where women make pads for themselves and for those across the world. We have a track record of successful partnerships in Uganda and globally, including organizations such as SNV Uganda, Samaritan’s Purse Uganda, Peace Corps, Rotary International, the Honest Company, Circle of Sisterhood, and Soroptimist.

What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)

Days for Girls International

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

Days for Girls in an organization that believes that partnerships are at the root of the mission to reach ‘Every Girl. Everywhere.' We rely on our local partners to provide deep knowledge of their communities and insight to local cultures and norms. The DfG partnership model supports dynamic and uniquely-tailored relationships so that our core services and products will not only work with, but for the communities we serve.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • Indigenous-led organization
  • Disabled Persons Organization (DPO)
  • Youth-led organization
  • Displaced Person / Refugee-led
  • Locally/community-led organization
  • International/global organization

Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)

Our idea is ready to scale globally. We have already reached 114 countries with Days for Girls Kits but now we are moving towards local sustainability through our Micro-Enterprise program.

What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)

We have a high quality reusable pad design that has been tested and works, as well as a health education program that has also been refined and is excellent. What we need in order to expand and scale are financial resources and an improved supply chain system so that we can reach the last mile with affordable products.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Global - within more than one geographic region globally

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organization Location (200 character limit)

Days for Girls headquarters are in Bellingham, Washington, USA. We have DfG Centers in Nepal, Uganda, and Guatemala and 69 Micro-Enterprise businesses in 15 countries.

What is your organizational status?

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Website

www.daysforgirls.org

18 comments

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Photo of Andrea
Team

Amazing how many volunteers Days for Girls International mobilized in the past ten years, AND - even more so - how many women are participating now as social entrepreneurs through DfGI programming! This is such important educational work in the realm of global health equity for girls and women. I especially appreciate how responsive DfGI approach is across MANY cultures.

Photo of Sandy Clark
Team

Thanks Andrea for your support and in recognizing the incredible power of our educational work. We are truly grateful to all the women around the world making a difference.

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