Roots & Shoots Project of the Month (POTM): Empowering Women One Period At A Time

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Roots & Shoots NYLC Member and Youth Blogger Abby A.’s project, “Project: Pink,” was chosen as December Project of the Month. Abby was invited to write about her project and share her tips for those who might feel inspired to start their own similar efforts in their community.

One day this past September, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when something caught my eye. Someone had posted about the hardships that women of little or no income face when they don’t have access to the menstrual hygiene products they need. As I became more informed about this problem,  I knew I had to do something about it. Thus, Project: Pink was launched.

Project: Pink is a community campaign with a mission to ensure that women in the Rehoboth, MA area are equipped with the menstrual hygiene products they need. I organized a drive for my local food pantry and assistance program that ran during October and November of 2016. In total, 170 boxes of pads and tampons were collected!

So, why is menstrual hygiene important? Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene products can lead to unsanitary conditions, infection, and a loss of confidence and self-esteem in women. On average, a box of sanitary pads or tampons costs $6.00. If a family consists of three menstruating women that each use one box of tampons a month, the yearly cost of menstrual hygiene products adds up to $216.00. This is a costly expenditure, and many people and families who are struggling financially cannot afford needed menstrual hygiene products.

Menstruation is treated differently in various regions of the world. In Japan, there is a belief that women cannot be sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle will affect their sense of taste. In many regions, menstruation affects attendance at school. According to Project Humanity, Kenyan girls miss 4.9 school days on average because of their period. Due to the belief that any type of blood is unclean, many Muslim women do not (or are not allowed to) attend mosque, participate in prayer, or engage in any other religious practices during their period.

There are many organizations worldwide that work towards educating women and girls about the process of menstruation and about proper menstrual hygiene. Girls Helping Girls Period is an organization started by teenage sisters, Emma and Quinn. They collect menstrual hygiene products and distribute them to those in need. Camions of Care was founded by Nadya Okamoto when she was a sophomore in high school. The organization now has chapters in 20 states! As stated on their website, Camions of Care advocates “for menstrual hygiene as a right and against the stigma surrounding the topic of periods.”

Are you interested in starting a menstrual hygiene products drive in your community? Here are 3 tips to help you get started:

Contact Your Local Organizations Serving Women
To learn more about the need for menstrual hygiene products in your area, contact local organizations serving women such as food banks, assistance programs, and shelters. Ask if they need menstrual hygiene products, and if they will accept the donations acquired throughout the drive.

Create A Game Plan
Now it’s time to organize the drive! A good activity to do is to create a project overview. Write down your project name, length, mission, and your hopes for the outcome of the drive. This exercise will help you to define your goals for the project. Don’t forget to enlist donation drop-off locations! Reach out to local businesses, places of worship, and other organizations about being a drop-off location for the drive.

Spread The Word
The more people that know about the drive, the better. Distributing flyers, writing a press release, and sharing about the drive on social media are all great ways to raise awareness. If a drop-off location sends out a newsletter, ask them if they would be willing to include the drive in it as well.

Did you know that the Jane Goodall Institute works toward improving gender and health outcomes? You can learn more about the program by clicking here. Additionally, please consider helping women and girls in other regions of the world by making a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute this holiday season.


Resources
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/periods-around-the-world
https://projecthumanity.com/celebrating-menstrual-hygiene-day/
http://dignityperiod.org/what-we-do/education/
http://www.janegoodall.org/what-we-do/gender-and-health/peer-education/
https://www.al-islam.org/the-ritual-ablutions-for-women-sayyid-muhammad-rizvi/introduction

About Author

Abby is a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). As a member of the NYLC, Abby acts as a youth voice and works to make a positive change in her community — for people, animals and the environment. Abby is a Freshman with the Penn Foster High School online program. She has dedicated her time to raising awareness of Lyme Disease and the plight of the Monarch Butterfly. 2016 is her first year working with Roots & Shoots.