Synposis: In celebration of International Women’s Day, Kilee chats with Celeste Mergens, founder and CEO of Days for Girls International. This non-profit organization is committed to ensuring women and girls have access to education, health, and success. Through March 15th, Nickel & Suede will donate $1 from each sale of our Be Bold pin to Days for Girls International.
Interview with Celeste Mergens, CEO Days for Girls International – March 10, 2021
In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I wanted to celebrate and share the work of a woman I greatly admire – Celeste Mergens, Founder and CEO of the non-profit, Days for Girls International (DFG). Celeste and I met in-person what feels like a million years ago, and I know so many women who’ve volunteered and worked with her organization. DFG increases access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating Social Entrepreneurs, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigma and limitations for women and girls. As a result, more women and girls have the knowledge and support they need to stay in school, pursue income-generating opportunities, and experience improved upward mobility. Since its inception in 2008, Days for Girls has reached 2.1 million women and girls across 144 countries and six continents. DFG’s work is helping millions of women daily, and Celeste’s journey to founding DFG is a story we can all learn from.
Celeste began Days for Girls after visiting a school in Kenya and learning that girls were sitting on cardboard and other makeshift items during their periods to attend school. Menstrual supplies were in short supply in refugee communities, if available at all. Celeste saw a need not only for reliable supplies and products but also to educate women and girls worldwide about reproductive health and safety.
“From the very beginning, we listened, and we responded. It’s about what communities need and respond to. It can’t be some solution that we’re bringing in. From the beginning, what was bringing us together was sharing what we learned and sharing feedback.”
Celeste is no stranger to stepping out of her comfort zone and likes to refer to designing the Days for Girls menstrual kit as failing forward. After numerous redesigns and with input from local communities, the current menstrual kit is sustainable, washable, and lasts up to three years.
What does the future look like for Celeste? She is most excited about the day she works herself out of a job. DFG’s goal is to reach five million women and girls by 2024. Five million women and girls with a better chance at education and upward mobility for themselves, their family, and community – if that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is. Join me in supporting Days for Girls International by visiting their site and learning more about their work. At Nickel & Suede, we are also donating $1 from each sale of our Be Bold pin to Days for Girls International until March 15th.
Listen to the full podcast here: