Member Highlight — Days for Girls International
Are you curious about how organizations work to end female genital mutilation in the United States? Read our conversation with Days for Girls International who has reached more than 2 million women and girls in 144 countries on 6 continents with quality, sustainable menstrual care solutions and health education.
Tell us about you/your organization.
Days for Girls International is an award-winning NGO that works to shatter stigma and limitations associated with menstruation for improved health, education and livelihood outcomes. To date, Days for Girls has reached more than 2.1 million women and girls in 144 countries on 6 continents with quality, sustainable menstrual care solutions and health education.
Celeste Mergens is the founder and CEO of Days for Girls. She has led the organization since its beginning in 2008, driven by twenty years of nonprofit and business management experience. She holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and Literature and audited a second in Global Sustainable Development. Her “can do” team-building approach has inspired thousands of volunteers and social enterprises worldwide.
Under Celeste’s stewardship, Days for Girls has won the SEED award for gender equity and entrepreneurship; was named as a ‘Next Ten’ Organization poised to change the world in the next decade by the Huffington Post; and is two-time Girl Effect Champion. To learn more about Celeste, listen to Episode 16 of The Days for Girls Podcast, “Period Poverty, Gender Equality and Resilience with DfG Founder Celeste Mergens.”
How is your organization working to end female genital mutilation in the United States?
Days for Girls is working to end female genital mutilation in the US through our menstrual health and women’s health education primarily to refugee communities. We are also working at the policy and advocacy level with local and federal governments to improve policies related to FGM/C.
What are the challenges and opportunities in trying to end female genital mutilation?
This topic is very sensitive in nature and there is a lot of misunderstanding about it. Sometimes it just needs to be talked about and bringing the conversation is the most important, but hardest part. In order to build bridges, it is crucial that we do not make it a shameful conversation, instead we talk in terms of, “What it?” What choices do we have for ourselves and others? It can be helpful to allow others who have made a decision to not have FGM to speak without coming from a place of shame.
How is the network helping you to achieve these goals and why is it important to be in the network?
The network is helpful from an advocacy perspective in keeping us up to date on the latest laws, policies and research related to FGM/C.
We can end female genital mutilation in the United States because we have the ability to have crucial conversations that give women the power to make new and different decisions.
Follow Days for Girls International of all social media platforms @daysforgirls