Darartu Doto founder and Executive Director of Bilisummaa started doing research on why girls in Ethiopia weren't graduating as quickly as the boys May of 2018. She was thinking through ways she can give back when she went back to visit her family in Ethiopia for the summer. In her research, she found that 51% of girls in Ethiopia miss between 1-4 days school a month due to menstruation. On top of that, 67% of girls reported having no menstrual health education. Inspired by this, our Founder headed back to Ethiopia summer of 2018 as the recipient of the
Davis Projects for Peace Grant allowing her to travel and run a three-week menstrual education program. With the grant, Darartu worked with a local nurse to lead workshops for over 100 students in Ethiopia. The workshops covered topics such as puberty, anatomy, menstrual cycle, menstrual hygiene, pain, etc. The students also learned how to sew reusable pads using everyday cloth, needles, and a thread. Through this project, Darartu learned that period poverty was an issue that needed to be addressed. A few months later, Bilisummaa was born to continue on the work of providing menstrual health education and products for students in Ethiopia. Although Bilisummaa has focused on Ethiopia, it has grown to support cities all over the world especially during COVID-19.