NEW YORK.— At the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Annual Meeting held in New York from September 19-20, the U.S.-based north American NGO, Batey Relief Alliance®, made a new “Commitment to Action” to enhance menstrual health and hygiene among 96 girls and 120 women living in batey Guazumita, Yamasá Municipality, Monte Plata province. “Our commitment is unique in context and was well received. It was part of a much broader discussion on the Caribbean region that faced multiple threats; and was on the frontlines of climate change, reeling from the devastating health and economic impacts of the pandemic, and under immense pressure of rising inflation and debt,” said Ulrick Gaillard, founder, president and CEO.
In 2021, Batey Relief Alliance, in collaboration with Minnesota University School of Public Health, published the Dominican Republic’ first study on menstrual health and hygiene revealing that more than 20% of schoolgirls in rural areas missed 2-3 schooldays monthly during menstruation due to the lack of access to sanitary pads. The study generated national debates on the human rights of the country’s female populations, especially those living in economically neglected communities, to access these products free of barriers. Local Dominican Congressman Omar L. Fernandez promptly introduced a new bill proposing to make all sanitary products in the country tax-free.
“With barely one household income to support a family of 3.5, money within the vulnerable rural communities, including the bateyes, is a rare commodity and often not enough to buy expensive disposable menstrual products. The environment, forcibly, puts the girls at an academic and heath disadvantage,” added Ulrick Gaillard, founder, president and CEO.
The Commitment primarily aims to help reduce absenteeism and dropouts among schoolgirls by making menstrual products more accessible to the female students in order to fully enjoy their rights to learn, compete and excel academically free of obstacles. The students and their mothers will receive training on how to produce, use, safely store and reuse sanitary pads—family-oriented, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective activities that would potentially deter stigma and shame and raise the self-esteem among the girls to stay in school. Batey Relief Alliance will also provide the working-aged women with a cadre of other opportunities to help them produce, escape poverty and gender-based violence and contribute to the local economy.
The Clinton Global Initiative also stressed on how to invest in the revitalization and diversification of the Caribbean’s economic fabric, strengthening local and regional health systems, and building climate adaptation capacity and resilience to future disasters that would be critical to move the region from vulnerability to opportunity.
“Batey Relief Alliance will provide low-interest micro loans to 120 women to engage in income-generating agricultural production activities in order to achieve household financial stability and food security, making the environment more stable and productive for the girls to retain their mental, physical, emotional and psychological strengths needed to stay in school,” continued Gaillard. Additional support to the participants includes access to 10,000 reusable period underwear, clean water, nutrition, micronutrients, antiworm medicines and medical and HIV care.
At a price tag of $235,000, the one-year Commitment will be implemented in partnership with Florida-based faith-based group CROSS Catholic Outreach and Period Company involving the participants in three main areas: 1) enhance health access, 2) foster entrepreneurial activity through the planning, producing, marketing and selling of 192 pigs and 2,400 chickens at local market, and 3) achieve financial independence. The target populations will also receive workshops on the concepts of women’s health and human rights, menstrual health, gender equality and health equity, stigma and tolerance; financial literacy, health management, including the safe handling of water, sanitation, hygiene.
Gaillard concluded that the Commitment’s main objective is to help the young girls be better prepared in the understanding of their rights with respects to health equity and education and the opportunities being offered to them to advance those rights in order to excel in life.
In 2018, Batey Relief Alliance launched the BRA Women’s Empowerment Initiative aimed at providing 5,000 women and girls with access to micro loans, skills training, education and other support needed to advance their gender equality rights.
Through various Commitments to Action made at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) since joining CGI partnership in 2011, Batey Relief Alliance worked to empower women in Haiti and the Dominican Republic through sustainable economic and agricultural development initiatives; provide clean water to rural communities in the Dominican Republic; improve early childhood and maternal nutrition in Peru; and prevent the spread of the zika virus.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI works with partners to drive action through its unique model. Rather than implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and develop Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable plans that address global challenges. Through CGI, the community has made more than 3,700 Commitments to Action that have made a difference in the lives of more than 435 million people in more than 180 countries.