Between Instagram's apology for deleting Toronto artist Rupi Kaur's intimate menstrual images and women marching on Downing Street to protest tampon tax, it's been quite the month for periods. The latest to shine a light on the issues women face around menstruation is #TheHomelessPeriod, a feminist campaign lobbying the government to provide sanitary towels and tampons for homeless women.
Oliver Frost, Josie Shedden and Sara Bakhaty met at an advertising agency while interning before setting up the campaign. "The idea was borne from a conversation about finding a creative solution to a social issue," Bakhaty told us. "When researching homelessness we realised that we all considered it to be a ‘male’ issue but we were surprised to find that approximately 26% of people who access homelessness services are women."
Homeless shelters currently receive public funding to buy condoms for rough sleepers, and the Homeless Period believes that the allowance should be extended to provide women with sanitary care. Almost 13,000 people have signed the group's Change.org petition. The campaign also offers supporters the chance to donate sanitary towels and tampons to shelters directly – which supporters have been doing in droves.
"We didn’t expect such a significant response so quickly with over 11,000 signatures in just one week," Bakhaty said. "It is really inspiring to see people taking action themselves off the back of the petition through fundraising and making contact with local shelters to arrange their own donations of sanitary care."
In one thought-provoking campaign video, a former rough sleeper explains the humiliation of not having access to proper sanitary care. "When I was homeless and I used to have my period, I used to end up going to a public toilet," she said. "You'd end up taking a cloth or whatever... and using that. I used to feel very depressed... Why does a woman have to rip up a cloth, put between her to protect herself from bleeding?"
"We felt that although there were a lot of campaigns about homelessness and we've all become quite numb to it," Bakhaty added. "People have invented clever new ways to donate, but often these don't change how we think about homelessness. Although we have focussed in on a specific issue we hope that the film and concept of The Homeless Period is thought provoking and engages people with the wider issue of homelessness emotionally again."
Watch The Homeless Period clip below and sign the petition here:
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