Last Sunday, 28th May, was Menstrual Hygiene Day. The vision of this initiative is to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. While our thoughts may initially go to women and girls in developing countries and the scarcity of sanitary resources they have and lack of education about hygiene, it is important to note that similar challenges are facing women closer to home.
About 46,000 women are homeless across Australia and, for them, menstrual hygiene is an ongoing issue that is often not talked about. Homeless women face the challenge of menstrual management and hygiene EVERY month and from stealing or asking strangers for sanitary products, using old socks, or even dried bark or leaves, these are some of the solutions they turn to.
One young woman decided to change that.
While she is most-known for her role on Neighbours, actress Saskia Hampele has a Bachelor of Social Work degree and has worked in the homeless sector. It is this part of her life that sparked her idea for creating a sustainable solution to this reoccurring problem so many women face.
Shocked by the lack of resources for women struggling to access sanitary care, Saskia decided a sustainable solution was needed, so she took a product that every woman needs, and is using the proceeds to help less fortunate women. Through an organic tampon subscription service, women can have their monthly sanitary products delivered and know that for each box they purchase, one box if being gifted to a woman in need. It’s called Gift Box.
Another organisation working in this same space is the Melbourne Period Project – a local organisation distributing donated sanitary items, like tampons and sanitary pads, to women living on the streets of Melbourne. Founded over three years ago, the small charity believes that the subscription service of Gift Box will be a great help to their service.
And, with more than 220,000 homeless women across the United States, this challenge is faced there too. However, last year, New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, signed a package of legislation increasing access to feminine hygiene products for New York City’s shelter residents, students and inmates, saying: “There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation. These laws recognize that feminine hygiene products are a necessity – not a luxury”.
He is 100% right. Feminine hygiene is a necessity not a choice or a luxury.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform to catalyse progress towards a world in which all women and girls manage their menstruation hygienically, with confidence, with dignity and without stigma.
So, this Thank You Thursday, we give a shout out to Saskia and her social enterprise, Gift Box, as well as other initiatives out there doing their bit toward this same goal.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.