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Stories of #GoodChange

September 2023

Sisters: Let’s talk about period poverty

Eddah*, 16, from Cameroon should have spent her school days learning and making friends. Instead, she skipped school monthly, staying at home to manage her period. Many girls like Eddah, in disadvantaged communities, are forced to miss up to 50 days of school each year because of period poverty, shame and stigma associated with menstruation.

Managing menstrual hygiene at school has become a key challenge for girls, especially in rural areas in Africa, where safe, clean water and toilet facilities are often inadequate and period products are considered a luxury.

Since I first had my period, I used old clothes as pads because that’s what my mother did.
And, we don't have the money to purchase sanitary napkins.

Putting a Stop to Period Poverty

Better Life for Girls - Period Poverty

Period poverty is a topical issue across the globe. In Australia, various state governments have recently committed to providing free period products in public schools. In 2020, Victoria became the first jurisdiction in the country to provide access to period products in public schools. SA, the NT, and Tasmania followed suit in 2021. NSW and Queensland public schools began providing free menstrual hygiene products in 2022, while the ACT already has free sanitary products available in public schools, and has introduced a bill which – if passed – would provide free pads and tampons to anyone who needs them.

Recently in Queensland, over 100,000 free period product packs were distributed to schools across the state since the program’s first Dignity Vending Machines were installed in schools in 2022. Originally promised for 120 schools, the expanded initiative to install, maintain, and stock Dignity Vending Machines in all Queensland state schools that want one takes the total investment over six years to more than $35 million.

Free period products provide cost of living relief and can particularly benefit girls facing challenging circumstances, unstable accommodation, or those escaping domestic and family violence.

Good Neighbours Australia supports this move as we launch our Better Life for Girls campaign, supporting girls living in poverty in Africa.

Better Life for Girls - Period Poverty

How Can You Help

“I learnt relevant things during the educational talks. I actively take part in girl’s club activities. I received a dignity kit with sanitary napkins, underwear, soaps, towel, menstrual tracker, toothbrushes, toothpastes, a bucket– all these items for my personal hygiene. I am really excited,” said Eddah.

Through the Better Life for Girls Project, Good Neighbours is raising awareness, funds and gift-in-kind donations to create better lives for girls, to support community health education programs, provide sustainable Dignity Kits with safe and reusable menstrual products, build Safe Spaces for girls at schools – rooms with facilities to help them manage their periods – and create Girls Clubs to empower girls to be changemakers in their communities.

Your donation, starting from $25, will help a girl in need. Make a monthly commitment today. That’s what good neighbours are for.

*Name changed for privacy purposes