Interview: How Hygiene For Her are Using Social Media To Talk About Period Poverty
Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Youth for Positive Change talks to Hygiene for Her about how they’re using TikTok, Snapchat and other social media platforms to help solve the issue of period poverty.
Thanks for doing this with us! First off, what is Hygiene For Her
and what was the inspiration behind it?
Our organization, Hygiene for Her, is dedicated to supplying sanitary products to the homeless in our hometown of Seattle. The goal is to help stamp out period poverty. At the same time, we aim to create a community of young women who feel comfortable discussing menstruation - a subject that has been taboo for centuries. By shedding light on periods, we hope to help educate women about their bodies and enable them to get the supplies they need to take care of themselves without feeling embarrassed.
The idea for Hygiene For Her came about organically while eating Hot Cheetos and watching Netflix. An offhand remark about period poverty made by a friend sparked an interest in us to create change in our community. Despite having no prior experience in the area of outreach, we decided to start Hygiene For Her.
While we spent a lot of time deciding on how to implement our idea, we knew one thing for certain: we wanted to up youth engagement surrounding period poverty. So, we decided to turn to the greatest resource of our time, the internet. As teenagers living in the era of TikTok, Snapchat and iPhones, we realized that creating a website would be the best way for people to help our cause. So, we did just that. The rest is history.
Where does period justice fit into the larger conversation about equality and creating a society that is founded on the principles of equity and justice?
Much can be said about equality and justice, especially what we as young people can do to help foster it. With so many injustices and inequalities out there, it’s important for our generation to speak up and let our voices be heard, because, after all, we are the future. What happens now is going to influence the world we live in as adults, so we need to decide what we want our world to look like in ten years time. When we make our voices and opinions about important issues heard, we create a better world for ourselves and for future generations.
So many of the important issues we face right now: racism, poverty, sexism, they are all tied to the issue of period poverty. All forms of discrimination are linked. It is important that we never stop looking for ways to correct these problems, and that we recognize they co-exist.
Recently, countries like New Zealand and Scotland have made pledges to end period poverty through the introduction of free tampons in schools and public institutions. Do you think these actions are sufficient in tackling the crisis at hand?
These are certainly steps in the right direction. However, I don’t think they will completely solve the problem of period poverty. For example, in rural areas people aren’t able to access pads or tampons as easily as those in urban settings because there aren’t as many schools and public institutions.
In my opinion, in order to solve period poverty effectively, countries like the U.S. need to eliminate their tampon taxes, and potentially set up programs that subsidize the cost of pads and tampons for those who can’t afford them.
I know Hygiene For Her has been involved in a number of recent initiatives. Can you tell us a little bit about them?
One of our major outreach programs involved helping the homeless community in our area. The homeless community does not have access to basic hygiene measures needed to protect themselves from COVID, so they rely on homeless shelters to provide for these needs. Unfortunately, these shelters often don’t have enough resources or volunteers to support them. This is where we stepped in. We connected over 65 students in our state (who now make up our student representatives) to raise over 1,200 dollars for the homeless. Recently, we made a sizable donation of over 2,000 feminine hygiene products to Angeline’s Day Centre in Seattle.
Aside from donations we’ve also contributed to our community in other ways. For example, we recently started collecting cards to thank our local healthcare workers who have worked so hard to protect us during the pandemic. We also created a blog where our student representatives and guest writers can explain the importance of our cause and mission.
On an individual level, some of our student reps have started selling art as a way of raising profits for Hygiene For Her so we can continue our work. We’re also discussing some new projects, so we’re really excited to see what the future holds for us!
A major part of Hygiene For Her is the utilization of the internet, and social media in particular, to spread important info about periods, the infamous “Tampon Tax” and so much more. Do you think that for your type of advocacy the internet is beneficial?
For our type of advocacy the internet is definitely beneficial because it helps us educate people about period poverty in an interactive way, and allows us to reach people we wouldn't normally be able to interact with in person. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and our website have become great areas to promote our work.
Finally, how can those interested collaborate or get involved with Hygiene For Her?
Some simple steps to get involved are to follow us on Instagram (@hygieneforher), Facebook (@hygieneforher), Twitter (@hygieneforher). We’ll also be accepting applications for board positions soon, so follow us on Instagram to be alerted when we start the application process.