If there’s one thing that every woman can relate to, it’s the reality that getting your period every month can sometimes be inconvenient, awkward, and just a bit icky.
But imagine if you were living on the streets, experiencing extreme poverty and having to choose between a meal and dealing with your sanitary needs.
Brisbane personal trainer Rochelle Courtenay was so moved by stories she heard of women having to make do with newspaper pads that she realised she had to do something about it.
In April 2015, Rochelle appealed to her network of friends and clients to donate sanitary products for homeless women and collected 450 items which were distributed amongst charities in Brisbane.
Her second sanitary products drive in August 2015 went viral and her fledgling charity, Share the Dignity, collected 150,000 items and volunteers nationwide.
“We’ve got a huge family – 350 volunteers and lots of supportive businesses across Australia in just 12 months,” said Rochelle.
“It’s been literally a whirlwind – just phenomenal.”
The April drive has started!
Share the Dignity’s April collection drive has just kicked off and they’re hoping to collect 500,000 items nationwide.
“When you walk the sanitary aisle, be grateful for what you have and just pick up an extra packet,” she said.
Growing awareness of the problem has highlighted the needs of other groups of women and Share the Dignity has heard stories of girls in schools and universities who are unable to attend classes because they can’t afford sanitary products. Women in many farming communities are also doing it tough.
“There’s not a woman on the earth who wouldn’t hear the plight of women having to use newspaper that would not respond to that,” Rochelle said.
“Access to sanitary items is just a human right.”
If you’re not sure what to buy, Rochelle recommends tampons over pads, noting that they don’t take up as much space to store and are the most requested items.
“You can drop off items at any Terry White Chemist, Brazilian Beauty salon and over 1,000 collection points nationwide,” Rochelle said.
Remove the tampon tax (GST)
Share the Dignity has big plans for their second year of operation and their number one goal is to lobby for removal of the “tampon tax” which has taxed every menstruating woman 10 per cent on hygiene products since 2000.
“To classify tampons, pads and menstrual cups as luxury items when they are necessities is preposterous when condoms, sunscreen and nicotine patches are tax free as they’re considered important health goods,” Rochelle said.
Please help. It is as simple as picking up an extra packet for a ‘girlfriend’ when grocery shopping and dropping it to one of the outlets on Rochelle’s site.
Pita is a 40-something Brisbane girl who works in corporate communications. After 20 years in communications she still loves finding ways to get her messages across and helping people feel connected to their workplace. She also keeps up with the Brisbane communications community and sits on the board of IABC Queensland, an international association for corporate communicators.
When she’s not writing newsletters, arranging events, or launching campaigns, she’s off exploring the world with her camera and a notebook.