You’re hungry. you have $10 left in your pocket. You don’t know when you’ll have access to another $10. But this morning you started your period. You have a difficult and unthinkable choice to make; should you buy food or pads or tampons? Which would you choose?
Dramatic? Perhaps. But that’s the choice thousands of homeless women and youth have to make every day. According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community, Planning, and Development, there are 216,211 (39%) homeless women in the U.S. Globally, that number jumps to the millions; there are an estimated 100 million homeless people and 44% of those are women!
Additionally, there are millions of girls who skip school around the world because they lack access to feminine hygiene products. Period poverty not only has dire implications for girls’ education but also impacts the global economy. According to The World Bank, a girl’s future earnings grow with every year of an extra year of primary education. Also, studies have shown when you educate a girl or woman, you uplift her entire community.
“When you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” – African Proverb
Women should not have to live with this indignity or have their earning potential and well being compromised. Period. Most of us cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to not have access to pads, tampons or liners, or to see our children miss their education because of their menstrual cycle.
By now, you’re probably thinking; but I’m only one person. What could I possibly do that would make a difference? We sometimes feel helpless because we think we’re too small or limited in resources to make any meaningful change.
We’re here to shift that perspective and to assure you that you CAN make a difference, and to show you how.
Here are 7 simple ways you can help women and girls live with dignity:
1. Support non-profit organizations that are fighting to end period poverty and period shaming.
While our list below may not be comprehensive, it’s a perfect place to start:
Know of any additional organizations we can support, please share in our comments below.
2. Buy products from for-profit companies that are fighting period poverty, such as:
- Cora – buy a box of feminine hygiene products and they donate a box to a girl in need
- L. – purchase a box of pads, tampons or liners and they donate a box to a woman in need
- Saalt – they commit 2% of our revenue to donate period care to regions with the most need and help fund initiatives in menstrual health, education, and sustainability
- Lunette – they partner with various organizations across the world to make access to feminine hygiene products much easier
- Always – through their #EndPeriodPoverty campaign in March and April, they’re raising awareness and make feminine hygiene products to those who need it the most.
Have any companies in mind we can support, please share in our comments below.
3. Take the pledge to end period poverty
Demand that pads and tampons be free and available in public restrooms just like toilet paper. Watch the video below to learn how.
4. Petition your state legislators to end the tampon tax
Periods are not a luxury and should NEVER be taxed. To make it worse, men’s nonessential products, such as penis pumps, viagra, and rogaine are NOT taxed! Yeah, chew on that for a sec! As the map below indicates, there are still 33 states with a tampon tax. Women should not have to fund state governments by buying products for an essential bodily function. Why should we be penalized for nearly 40 years of our lifetime (the average time we menstruate)? You can help put an end to the tampon tax. Click here to petition in your state to get it done. Together, we can prevail!
6. Organize a Period Products Drive with your friends, family, or women’s network (groups, colleagues, etc.) to collect pads, tampons, and liners to donate to homeless women and girls.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, we successfully organized our first-ever Quarterly Period Products Drive to collect feminine hygiene products. In 3 months, our group of 13 women collected 52 boxes of tampons, pads, and liners with a total value of $520! In December 2019, we delivered the boxes to Distributing Dignity, an organization that provides feminine hygiene products and bras to homeless women and youth.
52 boxes of tampons, pads, and liners with a total value of $520 collected in 3 months!
Our process was simple; every time we bought our monthly supply of pads, tampons or liners, we would purchase an extra box to donate to homeless women. At end of the 3-month period, we collected all the supplies and delivered them to Distributing Dignity. You too can join our drive! Click on the link below to get started.
Join our drive to start giving women dignity today.
7. Create a Facebook Fundraiser for your birthday (in lieu of gifts) during and major giving days, such as Giving Tuesday to support organizations fighting to end period poverty.
We organized our Facebook Fundraiser to coincide with Giving Tuesday, a global movement, which encourages people to do good on this particular day (typically falls on the first week of December.) We happily surpassed our fundraising goal of $320, raising $370, approximately 37 boxes of tampons, pads, and liners. The funds were donated directly to Distributing Dignity.
Our success from both our Quarterly Period Products Drive and our Giving Tuesday Facebook Fundraiser was a testament to the strength of our sisterhood and numbers. With just a group of 22 women, we were able to provide 89 boxes of feminine hygiene products at a nearly $900 value!
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Periods are not a choice, luxury or shame. They are a fact of a woman’s life and serve an important function for society. It’s about time we give women (regardless of their background) the respect they deserve and make it easier for them to manage their periods: less cost, easy access (schools, public bathrooms, public and private school bathrooms, workplace restrooms, service business restrooms – again, toilet part is offered free), and more education to eliminate period shaming.
Together we can make it happen.
Join our drive to start giving women dignity today.
Have any more ideas on how we can end period poverty and help women live with the dignity they deserve? Please share.
Featured photo credit: mentatdgt from Pexels