RI Monthly names Maternova founders Meg Wirth and Allyson Cote two 'Rhode Islanders of the Year' for 2016
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A Woman Who Inspires Us

A Woman Who Inspires Us

By A.E.Cote : Last week Maternova asked our readers to tell us the people In their lives that inspire them. This was a loosely worded question on purpose, to allow for the most creative of answers! Could it have been an instructor who inspired you to change majors in college? Perhaps it was your favorite author? Sometimes it’s a colleague and mentor who galvanized your passion for saving lives. This is the case with Maternova’s first honoree in the Women Who Inspire Us series. Her name is Celeste Mergens and this remarkable woman is the Founder and Director of [Days for Girls](http://www.daysforgirls.org/), headquartered in Washington State. Celeste was submitted by two colleagues, Deb Lund and Kayte Reagan. With nominations as impressive as these two, Celeste is our clear choice for our maiden voyage into celebrating the women who are making a difference daily in the lives of others.

Days for Girls is a pioneer in NGO work. They make, ship, and distribute innovative feminine hygiene kits to girls and women worldwide in developing countries. This translates into each girl gaining back productivity days. ‘Because of her work, these girls and women are able to stay in school, earn a living, and help provide for others’.’ Days for Girls empowers local girls, women, communities and economies in the areas where they operate. She has inspired scores of volunteers in Africa and across the globe, a feat that many people said could never happen in Africa.’

To get an idea of the volume Celeste and her team of volunteers are turning out, Days for Girls operates on five continents and in twenty seven countries! Over 50,000 kits have been handed out. The Organization's goal is to reach every nation and every girl and woman by the year 2022.When we calculate the total number of days given back to these girls and women who would otherwise be ‘waiting in their house’ the impact goes far beyond sheer numbers. Celeste has taken the often taboo topic of menstruation and shaken the social stigma women have endured for centuries.

But her impact goes far beyond the direct work of Days for Girls. A champion for women’s rights and equality, she has lent her voice to other causes and Celeste ‘has influenced the stopping of violence, rape, and genital mutilation through her willingness to step up with respect instead of condemnation’.

We’re told she’s a mastermind, creative problem solver, passionate, and her dedication to making a difference is unmatched. This is one impressive woman! Maternova is extremely happy and proud to help raise awareness about this powerhouse for change, who is clearly inspiring many people every day.

Thank you, Celeste, for all you do for women!

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