real life

Women around Australia are in desperate need of sanitary items. Here's how you can help.

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Australia, you have just days left to donate tampons and pads to Share the Dignity, a charity that provides sanitary items to women in need.

Their April product drive is almost over and happens again in August.

Although you can pretty much donate any time. After all, periods do come every single month and most of us take it for granted we’ll be able to access the essential products we need in order to lead a dignified life.

Just remember the last time you got your period and were fresh out of tampons? You probably just popped down to the shops and bought some.

But have you ever stopped to think of what a disadvantaged woman would do? Sure, the cheapest box of tampons costs only $2.50, but when you have children to feed and every cent counts, that’s a fortune to spend every single month.

Having your period can be costly. For something we have no choice but to use, whether it be tampons or pads or cups or sponges, we need them. Women don’t choose to have their periods month after month.

It’s something we’ve been talking about at Mamamia for a while now, and it was an article we published on our website in 2015 that caught the eye of Brisbane-based personal trainer Rochelle Courtenay.

She didn’t just share the post or like it, she decided to do something about it.

Mamamia Confessions: Our most awkward period stories. Article continues…

Video via Mamamia

Pretty awesome, huh?

And it’s not just traditionally homeless women who needed her help. Also women escaping from domestic violence and those suffering severe financial issues.

It’s hard to imagine what their lives were like before Rochelle launched Share the Dignity, an organisation that not only provides tampons and pads to women in need, but many other items they might require during the darkest times of their lives.

Before Share the Dignity, here’s what some women were forced to do when they got their periods, as shared by a woman who now volunteers for the organsation and recalled by Rochelle during her conversation with Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast.

“She used to buy a 99c packet of napkins – of Black & Gold napkins – to be able to use to get through her period because she had two children to feed, so, you know, it’s not unusual for them to use wadded up toilet paper, to use socks. Like, where’s the hygiene and the dignity in that?

“It’s just unbelievable the stories that you hear.”

In many cases women are forced to rifle through bins for old newspapers during their periods.

She launched a Facebook page, put out a request for donations and was inundated with offers. Now the organisation has hundreds of volunteers and millions of packets of sanitary items for women in need, as well as other items they may require.

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With the incredible success came even more devastating stories.

“A woman that I talked to in Darwin who wanted to volunteer and make it easier for us, and she worked in a petrol station, and she talked about how women would come in, would actually bleed across the floor, steal the packet of pads and go into the bathroom, clean themselves up and then walk away.”

Now homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters are being supplied by Share the Dignity but there is still more work to be done.

They decided to set up multiple collection points around the country, which were just front verandas to begin with. Now every Terry White Chemist, Fernwood Fitness, Brazilian Beauty, White Lady Funerals and many more businesses operate as official collection points for donations, making it much easier to collect them.

And it is all about the dignity.

“We’ve all had that accident, right? You know how that makes you feel yourself.”

Now imagine how that would feel if you didn’t know when you were next going to get to a bathroom and that when you finally got there you were stained, with no replacement clothes, no way to clean up properly and only low-quality toilet paper to shove in your undies.

Collections take place in April and August so there’s just a few more days this month to make a donation at any of the many collection points, or at the Share the Dignity website.

Listen to the full episode of No Filter with Rochelle Courtenay and Mia Freedman.

To subscribe to No Filter in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you’ll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Telstra Smart Home.

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