Para Hayahay sa Babae: The Gihay Initiative Mitigates Period Poverty One Reusable Napkin at a Time

Para Hayahay sa Babae: The Gihay Initiative Mitigates Period Poverty One Reusable Napkin at a Time

Starting as a passion project, this youth-led, non-profit organization has now produced and distributed over a thousand free, reusable napkins to low-income communities in Cebu.

Alixandra Alviola, a college student and one of the core founders of The Gihay Initiative, got the idea for this program in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. 

“It must be a struggle if relief goods don’t include napkins, especially if gidugo ka (you get your period) after a very desperate disaster,” she stated.

After creating a reusable napkin prototype and researching further about the effects of period poverty on women, Alviola pitched the idea for the initiative to local youth org mobilizer Michael Quijada, who helped her organize and kickstart the program together with co-founders Devhora Sandiego, Ma. Karyll Arcilla, Mary Hyacinthe Palban, Christian George Bernat, Kitana Misa and Sophia Puerto.

After receiving a seed grant from UNILAB Foundation via Visayan Youth Matters, The Gihay Initiative grew and started receiving funding from partnerships and fundraisers with various organizations such as student councils and women-based groups.

Since March 2022, The Gihay Initiative has created over a thousand reusable napkins and has distributed a total of 225 kits to girls and women from Ramon Duterte Memorial National Highschool and low-income communities such as Sitio Purras and Sitio Calma. Every distribution event included a menstrual health seminar, with Sitio Purras receiving a women’s dialogue in cooperation with What Women Want – USC and Gabriela Youth USC.

The Gihay Initiative aims for a reality in which menstruation ceases to become a socio-economic setback for women in poverty. This includes access to proper menstruation products and women’s health information, the anti-stigmatization of women’s bodies and rights, and the lobbying of these interests to the community and the government. 

Furthermore, The Gihay Initiative seeks to achieve these goals through sustainable means. Their reusable napkins are made from 90% recycled materials, most of which are gathered from clothing donations. For sanitation, these clothes undergo a process of salting, heating, and a final soap wash. Sanitized clothes are turned into absorbent cores and new fabric is only purchased for the top and bottom layers of the napkins.

The Gihay Initiative runs all of its operations through its volunteer force alone at the moment. People can help by signing up as a volunteer, donating clothes, or opting for extending financial help through their donation channels.

For more updates, follow The Gihay Initiative on Facebook.