During her week at Days for Girls, Vilma received workshops in sewing and business planning as well as a primer in Days for Girls’ own menstruation-centered women’s health curriculum. She is preparing to act as mentor and health advisor to a small business, still in its infancy, which will produce and distribute reusable cloth menstrual pads in and around Santiago Atitlán.
This social enterprise will play a key role in the Women’s Health Champions project: it will supply the pads that participating peer educators, or “Champions”, will distribute to other women in their communities. By selling pads, Champions will make valuable income for themselves at the same time that they promote environmental sustainability and good menstrual hygiene. The pads, which last for at least three years, are an economical alternative to the disposable pads that most women in Santiago Atitlán buy each month, an important option for women who must often find creative ways to meet their own needs in the allocation of scarce familial resources.
Vilma's time with Days for Girls also left her newly inspired to engage girls in conversations about women's health. "Menstruation is not a disease, and it does not have to be debilitating," she notes. "We must speak to young girls to interrupt these harmful beliefs and attitudes before they take root." The Champions will offer girls new knowledge of how to care for their bodies as well as a concrete tool to help them do just that: reusable pads.
The small business is still in its early stages, but Vilma has started meeting with a core group of women interested in participating to set expectations and map the way ahead. In November, the business also got a boost from a group of volunteers visiting Pueblo a Pueblo from the United States. The volunteers, all members of Utah-based ASI Robotics, Inc., brought a donation of six hand-powered sewing machines to be used in making the pads. Volunteers also led a three-part entrepreneurship workshop, providing valuable guidance on the group's business plan. The wheels are in motion for the development of a successful woman-led social enterprise here in Santiago Atitlán!
To support Vilma, the Champions, and the production of reusable menstrual pads here in Santiago Atitlán, consider making a gift to Pueblo a Pueblo today! Your year-end gift is a commitment to comprehensive women's health education, environmental sustainability, and economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. Visit pueblodonate.org to donate, check out our website to learn more about the project, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can help this project succeed!