How yogis can help provide tampons through downward dog
THE thought of a girl missing school or a homeless woman using newspaper because she didn't have access to pads was enough for Rochelle Courtenay to act.
The Share the Dignity Founder developed the national program in 2015 to provide homeless women, domestic violence victims and those without access to sanitary items dignity when they needed it.
The charity invented the world's first free sanitary vending machine; a system that distributes packs of pads and tampons for women who would otherwise go without.
There are more than 44,000 of those women in Australia.
At $9000 a machine and $2.50 per period pack, Ms Courtenay is calling on the community to get behind the cause at a host of Yoga4Dignity events across Australia.
The aim is to raise enough funds to install 20 more vending machines nationwide by the end of the year.
"When we first started collecting sanitary items two years ago I thought we just needed to help the women experiencing homelessness and lacking the basic of necessities like pads and tampons, instead having to use wadded-up toilet paper or newspaper to deal with their period," Ms Courtenay said.
"Now we know we need to help homeless women, women fleeing domestic violence in refuges, drought-stricken farming communities, poverty stricken girls not attending school and our remote indigenous communities.
"Access to sanitary items has been declared a human right by the United Nations. Yet, we know that in Australia there are thousands of women who don't have access to pads, tampons, menstrual cups or period-proof underwear.
We cant wait to see if there is a decrease in absenteeism in schools where we have placed the Dignity Vending Machine. Girls need education💕 pic.twitter.com/eZiXBl6uTG— sharethedignity (@sharingdignity) July 19, 2017
"Our goal is to provide the dignity that all women deserve by improving access to sanitary items. We can only do this with the support of our fundraising initiatives, like Yoga4Dignity, and corporate donations."
Another round of the vending machines rolls out this week, including at Ipswich Housing and Support Services and 139 Club in Fortitude Valley.
"We are so proud to be able to support these services by ensuring no woman or girl has to go without sanitary items," Ms Courtenay said.
Two of the machines are named after two women who have been great supporters of Share the Dignity.
"The 'Rebecca' at 139 Club is named after Rebecca Gibney, one of Australia's most beloved and respected actresses and Patron of Share the Dignity. The 'Ebony' at Ipswich HSSI, is named after local television journalist Ebony Cavallaro, who has always generously given Share the Dignity a voice and enabled us to share our message," Ms Courtenay said.
The two new machines join five others already installed across the state with plans for others already in the works.
How Dignity Vending Machine works
In an Australian first, the Dignity Vending Machines will hold 60 'Period Packs' containing two pads and six tampons - enough to manage around one day of menstrual flow.
Packs will be dispensed through the touch of a button up to once every ten minutes.
The machines will be installed in low socioeconomic areas, including in schools as research has shown that pupils are skipping school because they can't afford or access basic sanitary products.
Discreet placement of the vending machines is designed to help remove the stigma attached to asking for sanitary products due to being unable to afford them.
The first 30 machines have been funded by the Queensland Government's Dignity First Initiative, RACV, Eureka Conveyancing, Intimo and donations through Share the Dignity fundraising initiatives.
Each vending machine costs $9000 to manufacture, deliver, install and stock with 1000 Period Packs.
Get involved in Yoga4Dignity
Events will be held across Australia including at:
- Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre
- Youth Empowered Towards Independence, Cairns
- Ipswich Housing and Support Services Inc
- Coombabah State High School, Gold Coast
- Townsville Womens' Centre
Yoga teachers will host a one hour class on September 2 with proceeds from $20 ticket sales going towards funding more vending machines.
Organisations or individuals interested in sponsoring a Dignity Vending Machine or Period Packs are encouraged to contact Share the Dignity (email@example.com). For more information on Yoga4Dignity and how to host or attend a yoga event, go to www.sharethedignity.com.au/yoga4dignity.html.