The fantastic initiative “Share the Dignity” was started by Brisbanites Heather and Roschelle early this year (2015).
The initiative aims to provide Australian homeless and at risk women with sanitary products to allow them a sense of dignity at a time when they need it most.
Share The Dignity’s philosophy is that no woman should suffer the indignity of choosing between eating and buying sanitary items.
The reality is that they too often do.
- There are currently 105,237 homeless people living in Australia (Homelessness Australia)
- Of whom 44 per cent are female (45,813)
- The number one (55%) cause of homelessness in women is domestic violence (Homelessness Australia)
- One recurring challenge homeless women have to deal with, on top of their other struggles, is their period.
Dealing with menstruating while homeless has many challenges and might mean:
- Improvising in public toilets and restroom
- Choosing between food or other necessities, and sanitary products
- Waiting for donations at shelters – with sanitary products the least donated but most in demand
- Improvising sanitary protection from rags and paper
- Being forced to steal
It’s a serious issue that has rarely been acknowledged or discussed – as Heather and Rochelle comment:
“Share the Dignity” is raising awareness and have been able to provide domestic violence refuges and homeless shelters with substantial donations of pads and tampons.
There are many options to help out:
- Donate (disposable products) directly through Australian brand Tsuno:
- Make donations of products at collection points in your area (some of them are supermarkets, so you can just donate some extra purchases
- Donate to designated collectors in your area
- Begin a collection in your own workplace
- Consider donating menstrual cups or other reusable products
- Suggest your interest to cup brands in them setting up a buy-one-give-one program
or homeless women, cups could be a suitable option as they mean less recurring expense, and less frequent changes. On the other hand - there’s some debate about access to water to sterilise the cups.
Whatever the pros and cons (which everyone can consider - cups might be better for you, or not, even if only for some situations - see here) it might be a choice some homeless women would like to be able to make themselves.
The upfront expense of cups means you could help out. As with many things, the best value in the long term is more expensive upfront (think: fast food versus a kitchen). You could donate cups or, perhaps if you’ve happily switched to a cup, you could donate disposable products with the money you save each month. Whatever you think, I encourage you to read more about share the dignity here. There's also a Mama Mia write-up here.