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A united effort to end period poverty

Published:Monday | April 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMJessica Harrison - Lifestyle Writer
Period lady Weeks, smiles with a handful of pad donations.

Menstruation is a normal bodily function that happens when a girl transitions from childhood to adulthood. The term ‘period poverty’ refers to the lack of access to sanitary products such as pads, tampons and wipes, due to financial constraints. According to Shelly-Ann Weeks, founder of Her Flow Ja, the majority of females affected by this are students in low-income families between the ages of 13 and 17.

Weeks says the inspiration to start the pad drive came out of a conversation with a student in 2016, who explained how she (the student) used one sanitary napkin for the duration of her period, which lasts an average of five days.

“Every guidance counsellor that I talk to, they buy pads for the girls at school but they can’t buy for all of the girls, so what happens is that they’ll buy maybe two packs for the week and it finish inna one day because all the girls come, and when dem come dem (the guidance counsellor) gi dem one pad and it last for however long dem can mek it last dem which is usually multiple days, dependent on the girl”.

Since then, Her Flow Ja has gained the attention of several people who share the same vision, after receiving a grant from the US Embassy’s women’s history month programme. Using that grant, the foundation was able to fund menstrual packages for an estimated 10,000 girls.

Men got involved

Danielle Terrelonge, managing director of DRT Communications, joined the team after being nominated by Her Flow Ja for doing extraordinary work in her community. During the award ceremony, she challenged herself and the room to affect 60 periods.

“The following morning, I asked myself how I could do this in a way that stands out. If I had a mess with my period, I’m probably going to feel more ashamed to talk about having my period with a man than I would with a woman. Then I thought that it would create a sensation if we got men to start talking about it.”

Terrelonge has collected well over 8,000 pads in the short space of five days with much help from the men within her network who decided that this was a challenge worth accepting.

“I’m really excited that I had the idea, really excited that everyone has stepped up, and most of all I’m glad that we’ve raised awareness that there is something called period poverty, and that these are daily decisions girls have to make.”

If you are open to joining the movement in any way, get in touch with @HerFlow on social media or contact Shelly-Ann Weeks at (876) 798-0820.