Her Flow launches End Period Poverty campaign

Her Flow launches End Period Poverty campaign

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 31, 2019

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A survey conducted among guidance counsellers in 25 schools across Jamaica has revealed that 44 per cent of grade seven girls in those schools are affected by Period Poverty, a phenomena whereby women and girls cannot afford menstrual products.

While 25 schools are perhaps not enough to consider the findings compelling, CEO of Her Flow Foundation Shelly-Ann Weeks found the personal story of a female student gripping enough to take up the mantle of making a very personal and private issue, public.

“When you talk to the individuals, the little girls, it is very personal. One of these young ladies said to me that she was able to use one pad for her entire period. She was so proud of the fact that she found a way to address a problem, but I was horrified because she did not have any other option and this is a problem that we can address”.

Weeks was speaking at the launch of the End Period Poverty campaign, where she shared the data found during the Free Her Flow school tour in 2018.

The survey found that among grade seven girls, 13 per cent on average used alternative items such as tissue, old cloth, and banana leaves when they are on their menstrual cycle. Another 20 per cent of grade seven girls, on average, were found to be absent from school because of their periods. The survey also found that two cent of seventh grade girls on average visited the guidance counsellor or nurse’s office each month for menstrual products.

In summary, Weeks said a total of four per cent of grade seven girls conducted in the survey were affected by period poverty. Some of them either stay home while on their menstrual cycle, while others ask their teachers or guidance counsellors for sanitary products, or resort to using alternative items.

Weeks also called on policy makers and NGOs to eradicate period poverty, especially in schools.

“Fundamentally, we should treat period poverty as the national issue it is, and have essential products accessible for free to women and girls who need them.

“As an item, I think menstrual products should be treated the same as we treat tissue. It is a personal item. We need it and it is supposed to be available”.

As such, Her Flow foundation has partnered with the female hygiene products brand, Always, which has pledged to donate through Her Flow Foundation, to distribute over 170,000 sanitary napkins in 20 selected secondary schools across Jamaica.

General Manager of distribution company, Consumer Brands Limited, Tamara Thompson, said this is a significant step to ending period stigma and raising awareness about period poverty.

“We look forward to arousing the public psyche to the issue of period poverty and advancing this important conversation. There unfortunately continues to be stigma surrounding periods, and this must be erased and replaced with a productive approach, geared towards empowerment.

“Through prior involvement with period poverty initiatives, Her Flow collaborated closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to select over 20 secondary schools across Jamaica which can benefit most from our donation. This distribution will ensure that every single female student attending the selected schools will receive their own pack of Always feminine hygiene product,” said Thompson.

Always, through Her Flow Foundation, will also be donating one pad for every pack of Always pads purchased between March 22 and June 22, 2019.

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