Meet the Girls Behind the Period Power Project
These friends are using periods—yes, periods—to make global change.
Getting your period is annoying, embarrassing, or, at the very least, inconvenient no matter where you live. But in some countries, dealing with that time of the month isn't as easy as driving to Walgreens and stocking up on tampons and, um, chocolate (so we should consider ourselves lucky!). Women in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Guatemala, and Colombia don’t have access to basic feminine hygiene products due to cost or lack of supplies. This means they have to resort to using stuff like leaves, newspaper, or even skipping out on school or work altogether. One in 10 girls in Africa misses school due to her period; and let’s be real, can you really blame her?
The inequalities women face when it comes to feminine hygiene products first inspired a group of Toronto friends to create The Period Power Project. Comprised of Anna Collins, Sofy Mesa, Aurora Shields, Izzy Parrell and Jacqueline Ashton, their collective aims to raise awareness and money in order to provide menstrual cups to women in Colombia (where gender wage gaps makes it difficult to buy supplies). Just before the gang’s big fundraiser on Friday, Jacqueline filled us in on the project—and how anyone can help.
How did you guys come up with the idea for The Period Power Project?
Aurora and Izzy came up with this idea to throw an event fundraiser because they were frustrated with the lack of feminine hygiene products available to girls in public washrooms. They thought about how lucky they were to be able to afford tampons and pads if they need them, because unfortunately they aren’t free (yet). Everything began to tie together when we discussed it as a group and thought Colombia would be an interesting region of the world to work with.
Why did you focus on Colombia?
Sofy is from Colombia and her mother currently lives in the town of Palomino. Her mother, Marta, held a gathering in the past where she collected menstrual cups and shared them with the community of girls and women in Palomino. Marta experienced positive feedback, and this actually encouraged us to create The Period Power Project. Sofy has a close community of people there, and she's able to help us determine why it's important that we bring menstrual cups to Colombia and the best way to do it. This community in Colombia is the focus for our upcoming event and fundraising, but there are still many women all over the world who don't have access to or the funds for feminine hygiene products. In the future we plan to make this a long-term project on a local and global scale.
What's the ultimate goal for The Period Power Project?
We want to spread awareness, as well as create community and a safe space for the women in Palomino. Distributing the cups will make for a more sustainable future as there is no proper waste disposal system in place. The menstrual cup will reduce overall expenses and is eco-friendly. It will allow for girls to give back to the land with their blood and will encourage the concept of permaculture, benefitting the community in the long term. We want the women in Palomino to feel that they are not alone in the experiences they face regarding menstruation. Hopefully TPPP will open up this larger conversation. Our intent for the event is to create a space for Colombian people to share their culture and for people to learn from it.
What else can other girls do to help?
Aside from donating to this cause, girls and anyone who has an interest in these issues can research and educate themselves on why it's so important that girls around the world get more access to feminine hygiene products. In so many places, menstruation can be debilitating and can keep girls from school and work because they do not have the resources. We encourage people of all ages to learn from our project and generate discussions with anyone they know to try to think of ways that they can make a difference or ways that they may want to help gender equality. Essentially the more people who become aware, the more people will actively put solutions into motion.