YES Grantee Celebrates Global Youth Service Day 2024 by Empowering Low-income Girls and Women

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), powered by Youth Service America, is the largest youth service and civic action event in the world. It is a three-day celebration where young leaders aged 5-25 years old are invited to implement GYSD projects for the common good while showcasing the impact youth make on their local communities each day. Department of State Youth and Exchange Study (YES) students and alumni implement hundreds of GYSD projects in the U.S. and around the world each year. This year, it takes place on April 26-28, 2024, and our High School Program students are participating, including Alwiya (YES grantee). Continue reading to find out what she has planned, in her own words!

Period poverty is my project, and my goal is to make girls and women alike aware of the impact period poverty has on many low-income girls or/and women while trying to afford menstrual products. The stigma and cultural taboos surrounding menstruation, menstrual blood and personal hygiene practices around the world often cause females to miss school, work, or even normal daily activities during their cycle. I plan to ask for donations of various feminine products during the month of April and then create handouts to be distributed with sample products.

My activity is happening from April 1st to April 25th, 2024. Items will be collected during the month and distributed on April 25th during all lunches at school.

I have experienced and seen how women in my country lack such products and how it takes a toll in their education as well as self-esteem. Sanitary female products are quite expensive and unaffordable for those who lack financial support thus led to the usage of rags and other available materials found at home, which are not sanitary. Most girls do not even come to school when menstruation fearing how they might be perceived by well off peers or they just do not have anything to wear at all. I would like to help in any way I could, hence I hope my project would be able to offer some assistance with providing these menstrual products for those in need.

Divine Drops pamphlet (page 1)

My research shows that 65% of women in Kenya cannot afford these necessities to manage their periods, which means they cannot go to work or school and further sink into poverty. I have found many stories to offer examples on how low-income or no income families struggle to choose whether they should buy food or sanitary pads for their daughters. Moreover, transactional sex for pads is a common practice in the poorest communities that lead girls to end up with unwanted pregnancies and drop out of school, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.

Divine Drops pamphlet (page 2)

To continue this project in Kenya, I plan on asking for donations of feminine products from organizations like Divine, Drops, and Proctor & Gamble.  Also, going further I plan to research other organizations that produce these products, and may make donations. With the said donations, I will start off with my fellow schoolmates to provide information on ‘Period Poverty’ and the impact it has on their everyday life, including health risks associated with using pads and tampons and environmental disadvantages.

Aside from GYSD, Aliwya has been actively volunteering in different activities and representing her country at school presentations and events since she started her exchange program.

Alwiya at a school presentation
Aliwya (pictured on left)

Thank you Alwiya for continuing to be such an active young leader in the U.S. and we wish you all the best implementing your project in Kenya!

If you are interested in hosting an international student like Alwiya, please visit to meet students who look forward to being here this Fall.