Power Women 2020: Leslie Roy

Photo by Tessa Marie Images

Team Leader for Project Ensonga – Days for Girls.

For many women in developing countries, menstruation negatively impacts their education and potential livelihood. In countries where sanitary products are exorbitantly expensive, they must drop out of everyday life to tend to normal bodily functions.

Leslie Roy got a first-hand taste of this when she unexpectedly got her period on a trip to Uganda with the St. Davids-based Echoes Around the World. Upon her return, she discovered a program called Days for Girls, and she set about sewing and distributing reusable period kits.

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Meant to last at least three years, the kits include two pairs of underwear with two shields made of cotton and a waterproof fabric. Eight liners, a waterproof storage bag, a washcloth and a bar of soap round out the supplies, which fit neatly into a drawstring bag. Among other things, having reusable hygiene products means girls no longer have to miss school.

Days for Girls also works to educate girls and women about reproductive health. “Now that they understand what’s happening with their bodies, they know they have control over that,” says Roy.

Looking to recruit more volunteers, Roy launched Project Ensonga through Echoes Around the World in 2016. That year, Roy and her team made and distributed 500 menstruation kits in Uganda. Collectively, Project Ensonga has distributed more than 2,600 kits in 15 countries. One of those is the United States, where period poverty remains an issue.

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