If you know me IRL, of you’ve been following me on social media, then you would know that I am an avid supporter of Share the Dignity. This year, I decided that instead of just supporting the charity by donating resources, I would be the change I wanted to see in the world, and signed up to be a Shero. A Shero is a woman who organises a collection point for the #DignityDrive, and it’s SHEro, instead of HEro, to acknowledge that woman are doing the work.
As a part of my work for Share the Dignity, I was asked by the VIEW to give a talk to the local Murwillumbah club about the work that Share the Dignity do. I thought it was so exciting that I just had to share it all with you.
So what is Share the Dignity, and why am I banging on about pads, tampons and incontinence products?
Share the Dignity was launched in 2015, when the founder, Rochelle Courtnay heard about a story of a woman being fined $550 for stealing a $6.75 packet of tampons. From there, Rochelle began collecting pads and tampons from her community members, with a collection point on her front verandah. Now, Share the Dignity is a nation wide charity with numerous events to get involved with which aims to provide pads and tampons to homeless women.
Why? Why collect all this Lady Equipment? Can’t woman just buy their own pads and tampons and be quiet about it? Well, if you are lucky enough to have a roof over your head, and food on the table, you’ve probably never really had to worry too much about where you get your lady equipment from. You might be familiar with the tampon scrounge; where you go through all of your handbags, pockets and belongings to find that one tampon when you’re caught short. You may have even asked a friend if they could spare a tampon, but generally, these types of circumstances are rare, and you know you can pop down to the local shops and buy your preferred brand of lady equipment.
However, for some woman, this is not the case. Fore homeless woman, getting your period is a massive problem. This story in the Conversation for NADOC week details the problem in aboriginal communities and explains how some girls are missing school because they have their period. I knew this was happening in their world countries, but I never thought to think about it happening in this country.
Why do all these women need pads and tampons? Because due to domestic violence too many women are homeless and these women face a monthly problem, on top of all the challenges associated with homelessness.
Why woman? Domestic, intimate partner and family violence disproportionately effects woman . If you follow the counting dead woman project you would be aware that 21 women have died this year, and 73 women died last year as a result of domestic violence.
Woman account for 63 percent of domestic violence victims- this translates to 13,124 victims of intimate partner violence.
In the Tweed region, .36percent of the population is homeless, ranking 129th/ 328 in Australia.
Domestic violence in the main cause for homelessness amongst woman.
What has this got to do with pads and tampons? Having your period and being homeless is not fun. Far from it. Woman who leave their homes often have children with them, and place their children’s needs above their own. Sometimes, woman have to choose between feeding their children and tampons. I was listening to a podcast, where Mia Freedman detailed her experience of the CEO Sleepout, where they ran her through the typical scenario. In the role-play, she had to leave her house, with her children, and needed to find somewhere to go. The options were a friend’s house, a shelter or sleep in the car. From the role-play, Freedman found the options weren’t really options, as the reality is, most woman can’t stay with friends if they are escaping an abusive spouse, as the partner would follow them to their friend’s house. A shelter isn’t always an option, as some of them don’t take women with teenage boys, and sleeping the car isn’t a great option, as women can be reported to child services, and have the children removed. I know I’m not painting a pretty picture, but the reality is, homelessness and domestic violence is not pretty. Women are using socks, newspaper, wadded up toilet paper, napkins, old socks or simply going without. For some women, pads and tampons are a luxury. This is a monthly problem and in some shelters, pads and tampons are rationed out, as they are a scarce commodity. This is where Share the Dignity comes in, and provides woman with pads and tampons, making ‘that time of the month’ a little bit easier for homeless women.
How can you get involved? What can you do?
- Start stockpiling pads, tampons, menstrual cups, re-useable pads and incontinence products for #DignityDrive. Get on the website and find your closest collection point. Not one in your area? Get involved and make one! Have a pad party, and get your mates around for a cuppa and a collections of pads and tampons!
- Donate to Share the Dignity, as they are always collecting donations for the Pink Boxes. Pink Boxes are free vending machines which are placed in the relevant locations to help women access free pads and tampons. We’re aiming to have 50 machines throughout Australia, and we can’t so it without your help.
- #Yogafordignity In September, were doing a yoga fundraiser, so get on the website, find your closest location and get flexing!
- #itsinthebag collects basic toiletries (and maybe a few luxuries!), put together in a nice handbag and is delivered to women in need in November. Too often, women put the needs of their families first, and they do it to their own detriment. #itsinthebag, aims to provide women with the necessities that they may have left behind in the rush to leave their homes when fleeing domestic violence.
- FOLLOW SHARE THE DIGNITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Facebook & Instagram
While it may seem like all of the homelessness is about other people, and ‘those poor woman’, or even ‘aboriginal woman‘, but the reality is, domestic violence effects women from all backgrounds and all cultures, and more recently, homelessness is increasing for older women.
If you need help call 1800RESPECT ,