HOMELESS WOMEN HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFICULT CHOICE BETWEEN FOOD AND FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS
By Hailey Bullis, Staff Writer
“Periods are not taboo. Periods are not taboo. Periods are not taboo.”
This phrase was written on a paper pad and stuck on a tree near the Hub. You may have seen similar ones posted around campus. The reason behind it is simple, to bring awareness to the #HappyPeriod campaign organized by the Patriot Activities Council Oct. 4-20.
The #HappyPeriod campaign seeks to bring attention to the countless homeless women in America who have to fight to get tampons or pads every month when their periods start. Many have to resort to using t-shirts, cloth torn from clothes, or rolled up tissue paper.
This is why the #HappyPeriod campaign exists today. According to the #HappyPeriod website, the organization was started by Chelsea VonChaz and Cherryl Warner. VonChaz’s mother was in downtown Los Angeles in 2015 after she saw a homeless women with bloodstained undergarments.
Tracey Cadogan brought #HappyPeriod to George Mason University last year and Shernelle Rey, senior, continued the campaign this year.
#HappyPeriod makes kits for homeless woman that include panty liners, tampons, pads, and soaps. To gain these items, PAC hosted events like “Menstrual Cycling” and “Happy High 5” and collected donations for the kits at kiosks in the Johnson Center.
“I’m kind of excited. I want to be able to make at least 500 kits or more. I would really like to make more but 500 is the goal because that’s what we did last year. And I would like to make at least that if not more,” said Rey.
Feminine hygiene products are among the highest requested donations at homeless shelters, with socks being the number one most requested. However, much like socks, feminine hygiene products are rarely donated to homeless shelters where they are so desperately needed.
“[#HappyPeriod] helps a lot of women, because I know for me, pads and tampons and all of that stuff is very expensive. I know that there’s a lot of people that cannot afford to pay for these things,” said Rey.
Homeless people with periods must often choose between feminine hygiene products and food.
For those who choose hygiene, another decision must be made between price and quality as seen in a Menstrual Hygiene Report at http://menstrualhygieneday.org. The report also shows that even when women have access to hygiene products, they are often too embarrassed to ask for the products they need. The #HappyPeriod organization seeks to end this stigma and taboo surrounding periods.
On Oct. 20, PAC will host “Packing Day” to organize and put together the kits to be taken to the #HappyPeriod chapter in D.C.
Photo Courtesy of Hailey Bullis