You know that desperate feeling when you have you period and you reach into your handbag and frantically look for a tampon or pad only to find nothing? Imagine having that same sensation every single menstrual cycle, only being without the option of running to the nearest drugstore, friend or vending machine to fix the problem. What would you do?
This is the dilemma that homeless women face each period, due to the lack of sufficient access to feminine hygiene products. Many shelters do not have enough products to distribute to these women as feminine hygiene products are rarely distributed, and people have become so desensitized to homelessness that they barely even recognize or realize that there is a real problem at hand.
If you are a regular reader of the Maxim Hygiene blog, you know that women’s health is one of our top priorities and that we want nothing more than for women to feel fierce, in charge, and healthy. Many women who are without a home encounter lots of hardships daily like finding food to eat, a warm place to sleep and avoiding sexual assault. When homeless women get their period, their stress levels increase ten-fold. Their self-worth drastically diminishes, and they feel vulnerable, ashamed and unclean because they often do not have access to a bathroom or a shower, let alone a sanitary pad or tampon. Countless homeless women have resorted to stealing feminine hygiene products or looking for old rags that they can cut or tear up and use to absorb the blood. This practice is very unsanitary and dangerous, as the rags that are used are often old and soiled and could cause infection, which ultimately leaves women more susceptible to contracting serious, life-threatening diseases.
Even in our modern female empowering times, menstruation is still considered a very taboo subject , so people often try to ignore it, making the situation worse for homeless women. Chelsea VonChaz is one inspiring fierce woman who refused to turn a blind eye when she was driving down Los Angeles’ skid row and saw a homeless woman who was clearly on her period and in need of some product. It was a life changing moment for Chelsea that led to her creation of the #HappyPeriod social movement, which started with just Chelsea and her friends gathering together to create bags filled with feminine hygiene products and distributing them around L.A. to homeless women in need. Their efforts have expanded to Toronto and they hope to make the movement a global effort with your help.
We encourage you to check out the #HappyPeriod fundraiser to see the wonderful work these women are doing. Every woman deserves to feel good about herself, and a period shouldn’t stop her. If you feel inclined after this article to help out women in need, you can contact your local shelter and donate some feminine hygiene products, or consider donating to a fundraiser of your choice, like #HappyPeriod which will put your money towards making a homeless woman’s life a bit simpler and with fewer worries.