Did you know there are some girls and women who don’t have access to feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons) and because of this they miss school and work?
Two sisters from New Jersey are working to change that. 16-year-old Emma and 12-year-old Quinn Joy have collected more than 50,000 tampons and sanitary pads to help ensure that no girls or women in their community have to struggle to have access to these essential hygiene products. They have spent years volunteering at South Orange community organizations. While helping out, they discovered that feminine hygiene products are not covered by federal assistance programs. The girls decided to start their own non-profit organization, Girls Helping Girls, to help meet this need.
Through this outreach, Emma and Quinn are also working to spur conversation about how menstruation-related taboos contribute to these needs not being met. “That’s the point,” says Emma, “to educate the public and to eliminate this issue of being afraid to talk about it. It shouldn’t be a thing we hide.”
Emma and Quinn launched their charity in December 2014. They started off small by organizing a neighborhood brunch, where they asked guests to bring a box of tampons or pads to donate. Soon, they were setting up drop-off bins and helping other people host their own parties. The sisters then create packages of a year’s worth of pads and tampons and deliver them to food pantries and agencies that provide services to homeless women.
Their original goal was to give a year’s worth of products to 100 women by the end of 2015; instead, they were able to provide for 150 women. Their 2016 target is $5,000 in donations, and they’re also hoping to inspire other girls to hold donation parties in their own neighborhoods. “Anyone can host a party or discuss the issue with friends,” Emma says. “Women are so grateful when we hand them a bag. Imagine, if you’re struggling, not having to deal with that hygiene problem for a whole year. It’s a huge burden off their backs.”
Why Is This Important?
Having regular periods is an important part of girls and women’s health. There are many girls and women out there who cannot afford to buy tampons and pads for their monthly periods. For example, girls and women who are homeless may resort to using dirty rags or socks, which can lead to infections and can weaken the immune system. As a result, they miss school and work. It becomes difficult for them to lead normal lives and have a simple routine. Talking about periods is so important to improving girls and women’s reproductive health.
Think back to a time when you missed a few days of school? Was it difficult for you to catch up on work? Now imagine you had to do this every month. That’s a lot of catching up to do! In the same way, women who miss work miss out on being paid. Learn how you can get involved below. Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!
To donate to the Joy sisters’ project or learn how to organize a collection for your own community, visit Girls Helping Girls. Period.
You can also read more about Emma and Quinn here. (Woman’s Day)
- Facebook – A Mighty Girl
- Facebook – Girls Helping Girls. Period
- Menstruating while homeless: an ignored, in escapable issue
- Womansday – Girls Helping Girls