It may be something that, like me, you had never really thought about. When you do think about it, you are left feeling guilty for never having thought about it but also, very fortunate… What does a homeless woman, or a person in need do when they have their period?
When Amy from Essentials 4 Women SA contacted the team here at Glam Adelaide, we felt compelled to tell her story and maybe open a few people’s eyes to a problem that would seldom be thought about.
Now obviously it isn’t the nicest of topics. Most women will talk to other women about that “time of the month” (mostly complaints of how gross they are feeling, or grumpy they have been, or calls of “can you just pass the damn chocolate!”) whilst men cringe at the thought. Yes, it isn’t a very enjoyable thing, but have you ever thought about what it would be like to have your period but not the needs to deal with it (I.E tampons or sanitary pads)?
What about if you had to choose between eating that week or having sanitary items? Some women might have been caught in the situation where they have had to resort to creating a makeshift pad out of toilet paper or tissues, and the thought of having to do that most of the time is quite confronting.
Amy said that the whole thing started when she saw that a girlfriend of hers was in Perth doing a local collection of this nature with the charity Essentials for Women of Perth. Then she stumbled across the UK campaign cleverly named #TheHomelessPeriod, and there began her burning desire to do something for these women who don’t deserve to be left feeling vulnerable and embarrassed.
This kind of donation campaign had never been done in South Australia before.
“People do donate generously to various charities and campaigns but for some reason the thought of sanitary items never crosses their minds,” says Amy.
That is until Amy and Kelly, two Southern Adelaide mum’s, started Essentials 4 Women SA. With the bare necessities for women not provided for free, like razors or condoms are for men, this drive offers women in need something that so many women, myself included, would normally take for granted.
“Sanitary items are so expensive that service providers tend to not want to have that expense from their already stretched budget. They’re the least stocked and first to go. They will never have enough supplies. Every month, by virtue of what they’re used for, the products are gone and need to be replaced.”
With that came the first drive held in April/May, generating over 10,000 donated items. The overwhelming generosity of the first drive left their minds blown, and Amy and Kelly even more determined to continue to help.
The inaugural drive, which included drop off points from the Barossa Valley, all the way down to Goolwa, included eight beneficiaries:
· Junction Australia
· Central Domestic Violence Service
· Northern Domestic Violence Service
· Southern Domestic Violence Service
· Hutt Street Centre
· Catherine House
· Nunga Mi:Minar Womens & Children’s Shelter
· Seaford Ecumenical Mission
The heartwarming generosity left one young woman in tears of relief and appreciation. She said to one of the workers handing out the packs that because the items are so expensive, she usually struggles to feed herself and pay bills.
Amazingly, and with timing that seems as though ‘it was meant to be’, a story has been floating around on social media, particularly Facebook, that lends itself to this whole issue.
Kiran Gandhi, a 26 year old Harvard Business School graduate, made the brave decision to run the London Marathon using no means to stop her period from freely flowing. She has said that she did this in a bid to not only empower women to be proud of, and not ashamed, of that monthly act of nature, but also to raise awareness about those who do not have access to feminine products.
This timely call for awareness, leads into the action that we can take to help this situation. The next Essentials 4 Women donation drive is from 13 September – 17 October.
Amy and Kelly are very eager to smash the previous number of donations. Going into their first drive they had no idea of the type of number of donations that they might receive, which made it difficult to know who the beneficiaries would be. They kept the list quite narrow with homeless and domestic violence shelters, but this time, they have already committed to providing donations to various youth and refugee services.
With the long term goal of this amazing charity to see that vulnerable women no longer need to menstruate without dignity or resort to disturbing decisions such as making the choice of either buying food or buying essential sanitary items, we urge you to do anything that you can, whether it be big or small.
You can find out more information at the Essentials 4 Women SA Facebook page.