Some of you may have heard of Share the Dignity. It’s an Australian charity that donates pads, tampons and other personal hygiene items to women across Australia who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. They’re also a champion advocate for women who are victims of domestic violence.
I first heard of Share the Dignity last year when I listened to a podcast on the Mamma Mia network. Mia Freedman interviewed Rochelle Courtenay, who is the brain and heart of Share the Dignity.
Before listening to the podcast, the thought never crossed my mind that there are women across Australia who don’t have access to pads and tampons when they get their period. I now know there are over 85,000 women who don’t. I was astonished. I was sad. I was utterly disgusted.
There are women who put rocks in their underpants with toilet paper to stop their clothing becoming blood-soaked. There are girls who miss school for the duration of their period because they’ll otherwise be bullied beyond repair. There are women who have to choose between buying food or pads… and what kind of a choice is that? These stories are only the tip of the iceberg.
These women and girls feel embarrassed. They feel ashamed. They feel helpless. They feel dirty.
They do not feel loved. They do not feel safe. They do not feel nurtured. They do not feel dignified.
All of this because of something that is beyond their control: the fact that they get their period.
I don’t have a daughter, but I can’t bear the thought of having one and having her go without basic sanitary necessities.
I do have a son though, and for any mothers reading this, I ask you to think about what you would have done if you didn’t have pads for those first few weeks after giving birth. Knowing there are thousands of mothers in this position breaks my heart.
Many people regard this as being a women’s issue. But it’s not. It involves men too, not just because men can make donations, but because men are involved in the construction of the issue itself - part of that being that pads and tampons are taxed.
When I think about the way I want to raise my son, notions of charity and social justice come to the forefront.
I want to raise my son to know that he is powerful - that he has the power to stand up for things that are not okay, that he has the power to create change, that he has the power to love, to be generous, to be kind and to be compassionate. I want him to know that being powerful is not about being able to move mountains; that power is the sum of small choices and actions.
Every April, Share the Dignity runs Dignity Drive, which is a nationwide collection of pads and tampons that then get distributed to women in need. Collection bins are located throughout Australia. You can find them by going to the Share the Dignity website. There are only a few days left to donate to this year’s drive, and I urge you to get amongst it. It’s not hard, and it doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise – after all, you could buy someone a month’s supply of pads for the cost of one takeaway coffee.
I’ll continue to be part of Share the Dignity’s campaign. And when I head to my local collection points to donate, I’ll take my son with me. I’ll tell him what we’re donating and why. I’ll do that in the hope that he does it on his own one day.
The April collection is one of many ways you can get involved in Share the Dignity’s cause. Go to their website to find out more www.sharethedignity.com.au
They’re bloody fantastic!
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.
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