This month, Share the Dignity is running their March Dignity Drive with an ambitious aim of collecting 500,000 period products to help those experiencing period poverty.
Donations can be made at registered collection points that are then distributed across the country through various charities.
Share the Dignity founder and managing director Rochelle Courtenay said the need to address period poverty is greater now more than ever.
“You look at the financial strain and you look at these major floods that have happened in two of our largest states,” she said.
“Before COVID there were 3.2 million Australians who live below the poverty line now that’s in excess of 5 million. You’ve got to imagine that at least 2 million of those are menstruating women and girls.”
A survey commissioned by Share the Dignity last year found that more than one in five Australians have to improvise with socks, newspapers or toilet paper to manage their periods.
The survey found 40 per cent of respondents use a less suitable product due to cost and almost half wear a tampon or pad for more than four hours because they had run out and could not afford more.
“It’s not like we’re giving a warm jacket to a woman and it keeps her warm for years, this is a monthly problem,” Ms Courtenay said.
Period poverty also disrupts student education, with the survey revealing 74 per cent of respondents have difficulty paying attention in school because of a lack of sanitary care and close to half sometimes miss a class due to their period.
“It’s really hard to not be empathetic to hearing that a young girl is missing school because she can’t afford period products or her mom is going without,” Ms Courtenay said.
“Most of us we can get by without a thought in the world, but for lots of women in Australia that’s not the case.”
The Dignity Drive is just one way to help women and people who menstruate access period products and sanitary items.
“One packet can make a really big difference to somebody,” Ms Courtenay said.
“When all the shelves started to go bare in COVID 2020, people were saying, oh my god, how am I going to deal with my period? There are no products left on the shelf.
“Remember what that felt like? Because for lots of people that is their very normal every month,” Ms Courtenay added.
“So ensuring that everybody is afforded the dignity in life that we all take for granted is really important, it should be important to everybody.”
Jessica Roberts is a Masters of Journalism and International Relations student at Monash University. She is interested in advocating for women’s empowerment, amplifying the voices of marginalised communities and creating a society more inclusive and welcoming of minority groups. Jessica is passionate about writing stories that help make a difference.