As the Coronavirus rages on, it is becoming more and more prevalent that self-isolation is a privilege. It is estimated that there are almost 600,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in the United States. Most of these people do not have a place to shelter from the virus, let alone healthcare that can support them if they do contract it. When people do have a place to go, it is often in a shelter where self-isolation would be nearly impossible. Out of the 600,000 homeless individuals taking on this difficult time, statistic show that a little under 40 percent of these individuals are women.
Homeless women face so many challenges, but one that has persisted long before this pandemic began is access to menstrual products. The price of menstrual products is high to begin with, and many shelters across the country are not given government funds to provide these crucial products to people with periods. Luckily, there are a few organizations out there that are ready to help, one of which reminded us of the ever-so important problem that periods do not stop for pandemics.
I Support The Girls is a women-founded non-profit that collects new and gently-used bras and individually sealed tampons and pads to distribute to women and girls across the country. Founded by Dana Marlowe in 2015, I Support The Girls has 50 affiliates across the United States and 4 global affiliates that are responsible for learning about local need and collecting and distributing the products. So far, 8,850,000 bras and menstrual products have been collected and distributed to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, refugee agencies and more. I Support The Girls has also provided products to high schoolers, prisons, LGBTQ+ centers, and people affected by natural disasters. Just recently, I Support The Girls provided 5,000 pads and tampons to the victims of the Nashville Tornado.
Periods don’t stop for pandemics.?We have products to send to the 50+ organizations requesting menstrual products during this Coronavirus quarantine. We need your help. Donate $50 to cover shipping costs of maxipads to a small shelter tomorrow. Donate: https://t.co/sKxPsWzjoD pic.twitter.com/rBsMBxIMNR— I Support The Girls (@I_Support_Girls) March 15, 2020
Since the pandemic began, I Support The Girls has seen a 31 percent increase in requests for products. On “One World Together At Home,” the televised event created by Lady Gaga in partnership with Global Citizen and The World Health Organization--Marlowe reiterated the crucial message that now more than ever, we need to remember that periods do not stop for pandemics and that folks who menstruate desperately need these crucial hygiene products. “In times of disasters, let alone pandemics, it’s easy to overlook basic essentials for people around dignity” Marlow told Global Citizen. Workers at the non-profit are working tirelessly to make sure people are getting the hygiene products they need. Because of social distancing measures, one worker at a time might be collecting and distributing products for an entire area. In the ad on “One World Together At Home,” Marlowe even noted that her two young sons have been helping her organize products at their warehouse in the D.C. area.
While Marlowe noted that the request for products has increased because of this difficult time we’re living in, people who wish to donate products have also reached out in high numbers. Those who are able can send pads, period products or donate funds that can help I Support The Girls continue to distribute products as this pandemic goes on. More information about how to donate can be found on isupportthegirls.org.
Image via Global Citizen on YouTube
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Aliza is a Creative Writing BFA student and former BUST Magazine intern! When she's not writing, reading or scrolling through TikTok for hours on end, you can find her consuming copious amounts of iced coffee or doing something witchy. Follow her on Twitter @alizapelto.