Hello ISEE Community!
On behalf of the ISEE Board of Directors, please accept my warm wishes for you and your loved ones during this unprecedented time in our global society. The consolation that we are, in fact, living through a pivotal historical event must surely be tempered by the sobering reality of loss for so many people. Please help do your part by practicing good physical distancing techniques and washing your hands frequently.
ISEE was founded on the principle that every person deserves an education. We have been focused on keeping girls in school since the very beginning, and we have tailored our programs to this end. One of our major initiatives has been the making, in Canada and in Uganda, of reusable sanitary kits so that menstruating girls would be empowered to stay in school. We have distributed over 7,500 of these kits since 2012. These kits have made tangible differences in the lives of girls and women in Uganda, and we are so very honoured that you have helped us in this work.
The kits that we have made in the past were based upon an original pattern which was received after personally communicating with the founder of Days For Girls. At the time we started making the kits, the pattern was freely available on the DfG website and DfG was actively encouraging people to make the kits (as long as they weren’t selling them).
Since the first time we sewed a kit, we have consistently stressed that we based our kits on the DfG model. This was to remain transparent and to respect Days for Girls. When we first started ISEE, we knew we wanted to differentiate ourselves from DfG and we did this by the creation of our reproductive health workshops, which we deliver to the girls along with the kits. We also made modifications to the kits to suit the needs of the girls we served. We have always clearly stated that our kits are based on the Days for Girls pattern. Never have we claimed ownership of, or creation of, the patterns.
In 2014 DfG applied for a patent for their kit, and in 2018 they received this patent. At approximately the same time DfG shifted from charitable work to a for-profit model in Uganda.
Despite ISEE’s attempt to always give credit for the pattern to Days for Girls as a way of remaining transparent in our work and despite the fact that ISEE has been using this pattern since 2012, the president of Days for Girls Canada contacted Erika on March 31st and offered ISEE two options:
1. Become a team/chapter of Days for Girls which means ISEE would need to make the kits exactly as DfG mandates and we would no longer be able to use Betty and her team of sewers in Uganda as they would need to be “gold certified” by Days for Girls
2. Remove any mention of Days for Girls from our website and cease to use the Days for Girls patterns.
The board of ISEE Solutions has unanimously decided to completely distance ourselves from DfG and anything associated with them.
To this end, as of April 1, 2020, we request that you do not start any new work on raw materials. The pieces that are already in the pipeline, as it were, can and should be completed as per usual, but please hold off on starting anything new.
This means you can:
– complete the pieces you took home from the last sewing bee
– continue making backpacks using the Simplicity pattern
– continue making the water resistant hygiene bags
Please do not:
– trace and cut PUL
– cut new fabric for making more components of the kits
– make bags using the old pattern
We are actively prototyping new designs and will have a different pattern for you very soon (and if you are a menstruating female who would be willing to try wearing our new pattern and then reporting back on comfort and build, please reach out to Erika via email).
We are a teeny-tiny charity that only seeks to do good in the world, and without our reputation we are nothing. We hope this move will highlight our commitment to ethical, honourable, and transparent behaviour.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact myself or Erika directly. We will be happy to tell you more (from a distance, of course).
Keep safe, and thank you once again,
ISEE Solutions Society
Preventing period poverty