It’s Women’s History Month, so let’s talk about some of the great things that women around Pittsburgh are doing to support other women.
I Support the Girls
I Support the Girls uses affiliates to collect donations of new and gently used bras and individually sealed tampons and pads to distribute to girls and women experiencing homelessness across the U.S. and globally. Here at Levana Bratique, we're the Pittsburgh affiliate, so we collect gently used and new bras as well as menstrual products year-round at the store from anyone who wishes to donate. All of our staff, including our owner, Judy, and store manager Adrian, help with collecting, organizing, and distributing donations around Pittsburgh to organizations that work with folx in need.
Often when we think of lack of access to products to use during your period, we think it's only a problem in developing countries, but it happens locally too. Based on the belief that everyone deserves the dignity of having access to personal hygiene products, Pittsburgher Tamara Abney started the nonprofit SisterFriend in 2015 to fight menstrual poverty in Western Pennsylvania. SisterFriend provides menstrual health education and free period products to schools, shelters and correctional facilities. Tamara has also been advocating for Menstrual Access Policy in PA, which would include free menstrual products in the bathrooms of schools and universities.
Days for Girls
Non-profit Days for Girls works in developing countries to provide women's health education, break taboos regarding women's health and menstruation, and provide sustainable feminine hygiene solutions. In many developing countries there is no place to dispose of disposable products, so the reusable pads dry quickly in the sun and are designed to last up to three years with proper care. The shields and liners are made of patterned fabric to hide stains and fold out to look like washcloths, meaning girls can clean them outdoors and dry them in the sun with no embarrassment.
I had the pleasure of going to Guatemala last year on a trip where we distributed Days for Girls kits to school girls. Pittsburgh-based doctor Alaina James explained how to use the kits and gave an overview of women’s health. The girls were SO excited to get their kits, and many of the teachers asked for some as well. Disposable menstrual products are an expensive luxury in the high poverty area we were in, so many either use old rags or wear three or four pairs of underwear when they are on their period.
Programs like I Support the Girls, SisterFriend, and Days for Girls help to destigmatize periods through education and accessibility, and ensure that all women and girls can continue to go to school or work without interruption every month.
How you can help:
You can stop by the store to drop off a donation for I Support the Girls, or mail them to us at 11530 Perry Hwy, Ste 106, Wexford 15090. You can also make a financial donation to support their efforts.
You can donate financially or with products, or fundraise for SisterFriends. They host a community forum series and have a free public event coming up on April 1 at Pitt with Claire Coder founder and CEO of Aunt Flow.
If you can sew (or are willing to learn) you can volunteer to make the reusable kits for Days for Girls. You can search here to find a local club; the ones in the Pittsburgh area are Shadyside, Valencia, Murrysville and McMurray, and they have a local chapter at Pitt. They also accept financial donations. All of that information is available on their website.
Photo credit: I Support the Girls Pittsburgh, SisterFriend, and Kimberly Rowen