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Share the love, share the dignity

Olivia Afiabo

“I asked myself, what would I do if I couldn’t afford pads and tampons?

How would that make me feel? I thought I would want to disappear from the shame, embarrassment and fear. The solution was so simple.”

ACT’s Share the Dignity Team Leader, Nikki Bensch reflects on how she felt when she first considered the monthly struggles faced by disenfranchised and homeless women when they menstruate.

“I’m a little embarrassed to say, I had never thought about how homeless women manage their period. As soon as I put myself in their shoes, I felt compelled to help,” Nikki says.

“Through Share the Dignity, I’ve discovered the difference small acts of can make. By donating one packet of pads or tampons, we are not only giving the gift of dignity, we are also saying to a vulnerable woman that we care about you, we support you and you are not alone.”

Share the Dignity is an Australia-wide organisation, founded and formed in Brisbane and now extending its reach to aid women in every state and territory across the country.

From humble beginnings with the humble desire to offer women in need an alternative to spending money, which may be scarce, on the sanity products, Share the Dignity has spread compassion across the country. All women deserve access to sanitary products, and it is Share the Dignity’s aim to ensure that in Australia, all women have it.

It goes without saying that with Share the Dignity’s impressive expansion it will be easier for people to get involved on a local level. Coming up in March and April Canberrans will have their best opportunity to get involved and donate time, money or sanitary products to the cause.

On Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 March Share the Dignity’s Canberra team will be in attendance at the Handmade Markets at Exhibition Park. In amongst the artists, stylists, and designers, the team will be there to raise awareness and get people ready for their collection drive in April.

“In the ACT and Queanbeyan, we aim to collect 6000 packets of pads and tampons each collection. 6000 packets will ensure our charity partners are fully stocked for the next six months,” Nikki says of their upcoming collection drive.

This will be your chance to donate sanitary products, which will be distributed to organisations including homeless, domestic violence and family refuges and shelters.

The items accepted for donation include pads, maternity pads, incontinence pads, new reusable pads, tampons, period-proof underwear and menstrual cups. If a variety of items are donated it makes it easier for the recipients to choose their preferred sanitary product, because that sort of choice is invaluable.

As well as providing refuges around Canberra with sanitary products, Share the Dignity are excited to announce that this year Canberra will also be receiving its very first Dignity Vending Machine.

“We realised we needed another method to reach homeless women, and women at risk of homelessness, when we understood that not all women accessed support services,” Nikki says.

“There are many women in our community who are on the verge of homelessness. These are women who are sleeping in their cars and who are getting up the next day and going to work. They are women who are using all of their resources to put food on the table for their kids, and will sacrifice their own needs. There are women who might feel embarrassed and ashamed asking for free sanitary items.”

“To reach these women, we needed to develop a way of providing discreet access to free sanitary items. Our Dignity Vending Machines will provide these women with private access to free sanitary items.”

Though the exact location is yet to be finalised, the vending machine will be located somewhere that is safe and accessible for women, hopefully by the end of April. For more information about the Dignity Vending Machine check the Share the Dignity website for updates.

Another way to help out Share the Dignity is by attending the Share the DigniTea High Tea, which will be held on Menstrual Hygiene Day (Sunday 28 May) at the Hotel Realm in Barton. This event will be a fantastic way to get involved, with proceeds going to Share the Dignity’s continued work to help women in need remain safe and healthy when they menstruate. Tickets for the event will be $59 each or $550 for a table of 10 and will get you a seat for high tea as well as entertainment, guest speakers and the chance to win raffle prizes

If you’re keen to get involved and help women in our Canberra, head out and assist the ACT Share the Dignity team over the next few months with their efforts to make a real difference in the lives of women.

“We have started a movement,” explains Nikki. “It’s a movement with dignity and compassion at its core. Where small acts of kindness are significant and where we dare to dream about making a significant difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable women in our community.”

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Olivia Afiabo

Olivia grew up in Canberra before moving off to Wollongong to study creative writing at the University of Wollongong. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Creative Arts degree she returned to the Capital to pursue a career in writing and publishing. The first step in this journey has been interning at HerCanberra and, though she misses the beach, being back with family and old friends has been a welcome change. There’s nothing she loves more than reading, writing and watching football (the ‘no hands allowed’ variety). More about the Author

  • lovestodance

    Thanks for covering this issue so well. As a Share the Dignity volunteer, I can say we appreciate that Her Canberra is getting the facts out there.