York Minster’s North Transept will once again be transformed into a giant sewing workshop on Monday 5 March for the world-wide “hands on” project Days for Girls. The movement has one clear aim: “Education, Hygiene and Dignity for all girls – everywhere.”
Lack of access to affordable, feminine hygiene products during menstruation has serious consequences for many girls across the world, including missing school days and risk of infection from using improvised materials.
Days for Girls has devised a practical, low cost, re-usable solution in the form of a kit which uses brightly patterned cottons to sew cleverly designed pads and covers which are then packed into attractive drawstring bags. These can be easily sewn by hand or with a sewing machine. Each kit includes underwear, a wash cloth and two one gallon, super strong polythene zip-locked bags to enable the soiled items to be washed easily – particularly important in areas where water is scarce.
Sewing machines, ironing boards and a mini-production line will be set up in the cathedral’s North Transept for two sessions, which will run from 10.00am until 12.30pm and 1.30 until 4.00pm. Volunteers are needed to help cut patterns, sew items and pack finished kits. There are only 100 places available per session so volunteers will need to book a place in advance.
The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Barbara Boyce, will attend the afternoon session. Also helping will be two women participating in the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at the Centre for Applied Human Rights at York University.
Gerald Hayo from Kenya, campaigns against the discrimination of women from marginalised communities in her country. Anima Poudel works on women’s rights in Nepal with a specific interest in combating taboos relating to menstruation in traditional rural communities.
The Minster’s workshop is taking place with the support of Rotary York Ainsty which is donating funds to Gerald and Anima to help start workshops in their countries.