Share the Dignity (STD) is an Australian charity that provides homeless and at risk women with sanitary items so as to allow them a sense of dignity at a time when they need it most. It is run on an entirely voluntary basis, with approximately 450 “Sheroes” (and a few “Heroes”) across the country. In April and August they coordinate nationwide donation drives for sanitary pads, incontinence pads, tampons, absorbent underwear and menstrual cups. In the past year they have collected over 270 000 sanitary items for women in need. In November they run the #ItsInTheBag campaign where they collect donated handbags filled with personal care products, which are then distributed by partner charities as Christmas gifts for homeless and at risk women. In 2015, STD collected over 23 000 bags!
To celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day 2016, Share the Dignity coordinated ten “DigniTEAs” across the country. 1700 women and (some very brave) men came together to toast all things periods – and eat delicious petit fours. The events also raised awareness around issues of menstrual hygiene, domestic violence and homelessness in Australia and abroad. Guest speakers with diverse backgrounds as advocates, charity workers, social entrepreneurs and researchers addressed audiences. The Australia-Pacific Regional Coordinator for Menstrual Hygiene Day, Dr Dani Barrington, presented at the Brisbane event. You can read her speech here.
During Share the Dignity’s April 2016 collection drive, partner Intimo promoted STD’s work and donated 10% of all their sales to them. A highlight of the Brisbane DigniTEA was the presentation of these funds, in the form of a $30 000 cheque, to The Lady Musgrave Trust. The Trust “provides safe and secure accommodation and customised support services for women, up to the age of 30, that are facing critical homeless situations as a result of domestic violence, family breakdown, banishment due to pregnancy and other complex issues.” The donation will contribute to a unit of crisis care accommodation.
The DigniTEAs also raised funds to continue Share the Dignity’s work. As well as ticket sales and sanitary item collections at each venue, each location held a raffle with amazing prizes donated by supportive companies. Across the country, Share the Dignity raised over $56 000 thanks to the fabulous work of their volunteers.
Keynote adress by Dani Barrington: Menstruation Matters to everyone, everywhere.
Dani Barrington is Research Fellow (Monash University/International WaterCentre) and National Coordinator for MH Day.
Pictures: Share the Dignity volunteers at the Brisbane event