Giving Tuesday - 1 December

On December 1st, 2015, the #LetsFaceItPeriod team will hold a Silent Auction as a charitable event in honor of #Giving Tuesday. This silent auction will feature 7 amazing pieces of art, all related to menstruation. This event will be the opportunity to gather the necessary funding to help girls stay in school across 3 countries in Africa.

As some of you may know, #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Last year, more than 10,000 non-profit organizations in 46 countries took part in this incredible movement as a counter to Black Friday and this year, #LetsFaceItPeriod is joining the flow in order to ensure access to menstrual basic products to thousand of girls in developing countries.

Through your donation to The #LetsFaceItPeriod campaign, you will make sure that girls have access to proper sanitary products and a proper MHM education. Thanks to our amazing beneficiaries, we will support  more than 21,000 girls in Africa, and your donation will make the difference they need. To learn more about our 4 implementing partners, make sure to check our Beneficiaries!

We are so excited to be a part of this incredible community and we certainly hope that you will save some room on your gift shopping list for a girl in need!

#Letsfaceitperiod teams up with #HappyPeriod to make feminine-product kits for homeless women

#HappyPeriod is a social movement of girlfriends giving homeless women and girls a chance to have a #HappyPeriod! They began in Los Angeles after the founder, Chelsea VonChaz saw a homeless woman openly bleeding on a street corner. She realized how much of a luxury it was for her to be able to manage her ‘moontime’ needs! 

Now, she hosts monthly gatherings to assemble feminine product kits and distributes them on the streets of LA and in shelters.

The #LetsFaceItPeriod team met up with her on October 2 when they brought the monthly gathering to the Bronx! Everyone brought a kind of menstruation product which were dumped and then sorted into strengths on a long table. Then, with bright yellow #HappyPeriod bags in hand, we circled the table adding enough different strengths of pads and tampons in each bag to last a menstrual cycle!

Because menstruation is such a taboo, the problems that homeless women can face during their periods are often forgotten and not discussed. Homeless shelters often lack disposable menstruation products that homeless women need. 

To read more about the work that Hashtag Happy Period is doing, check out their website http://hashtaghappyperiod.org.

This month, #LetsFaceItPeriod is featuring our beneficiary, Make Them Visible, a women’s homeless shelter as a part of the New York Rescue Mission. To find out more visit our beneficiary page!

 

Health Coach Session: Alternatives to Hormonal Contraceptives

Kara DeDonato was on the birth control pill for ten years, from age 15 to 25. In an intimate session yesterday, the health coach shared with us the reasons why she ditched it and what non-hormonal alternatives are out there for birth control and a healthy menstrual cycle.

While the pill works for most healthy women, very few know how it actually works and what effects it can have on their bodies. Being on the pill depletes your levels of crucial vitamins, like B and zinc, as the body uses them to break down the estrogen that the pill supplies at a steady level. More serious consequences can include an increased risk of cervical cancer and stroke. And let's not forget: it also decreases your sex drive drastically...

Every woman should look into these effects and pay attention to how the pill makes her feel. And remember: there are alternatives. Kara, for example, recommends the copper IUD, which gets inserted into the uterus and provides constant protection without the use of hormones. 

When it comes to “healing” other medical conditions with the pill, such as bad skin or cysts, she warned that the pill is only a band-aid, and that a holistic medical approach would be better to determine and treat the real causes of these issues.

 Kara DeDonato 

Kara DeDonato 

Finally, Kara shared loads of good advice for taking care of yourself for a health cycle. They include taking sufficient B-vitamins and magnesium, which ease symptoms of PMS, and consuming raw honey daily to reduce the amount of prostaglandins, which can cause menstrual cramping. She also advises taking activated charcoal when you eat out in restaurants to reduce the amount of potential toxins you absorb from bad fats. 

We loved Kara’s session. Thank you so much for joining us. For all of you who want to learn more about hormonal health and be in touch with Kara directly, check out her website www.liberawellness.com

Bhutan joins #LetsFaceItPeriod

Gathered around a square table in a crowded conference room in the capital city of Bhutan sat students, parents and prominent members of the community preparing to discuss a topic usually reserved for hushed tones and awkward pauses.

MyBhutan, a social enterprise that will be launching Bhutan’s first one-stop travel portal later this month and RENEW, a local Bhutanese organization “dedicated to the relief and empowerment of disadvantaged women and adolescent girls” came together to add Bhutan to the long list of countries joining the #LetsFaceItPeriod Campaign. In support of the campaign, which aims to start an open dialogue on menstruation to de-stigmatize the topic globally, RENEW and MyBhutan called upon the local community to join the flow of conversation at a roundtable discussion on Friday, September 11.

After formalities and greetings from MyBhutan’s founder, Matt DeSantis, Madam Dolma, the principal of Rinchen Kuenphen Primary School and moderator of the event, opened the floor for discussions. After some uncomfortable shuffling, Aum Damchoe from the Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs (BAOWE) broke the silence.

“We can’t speak out; I don’t understand why we fear speaking up.”

With that, the metaphorical bloody dam was broken and the crowd began to talk. About periods.

The talks touched on various subjects. Ranging from what menstruation is to how parents should approach their children when discussing periods. One man questioned the young girls on why they felt uncomfortable discussing their periods with their fathers.

“Mothers go through it so they understand it better,” responded one student. Her peers nodded in agreement and the visibly hurt father said, “We fathers do know about menstruation…we would appreciate it if girls came up and talked to us openly.”

Without prompting from the campaign organizers, this conversation organically arose and touched on the core of the campaign – the uneasiness women and girls feel about discussing their periods. It was a sentiment held by both young and old and was even felt by men, especially caring fathers who are eager to join the conversation.

But this father may seem like a minority to most. Many older attendees agreed that their parents, especially fathers, were not so eager to discuss their monthly visitor. One woman remembered how unprepared she was for her first period because her parents simply didn’t tell her what to expect. “It was a very uncomfortable topic to talk about…we didn’t have internet access so we couldn’t educate ourselves. I had to rely on my cousins, sisters and girls my own age to exchange information.”

This lack of information is inline with WHO-UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme’s findings in South Asia that “1 out of 3 schoolgirls are not aware of menstruation prior to menarche and only 2.5% know that menstrual blood comes from the uterus.” This complete ignorance of a natural biological process lends itself to period shame; causing young women to forego school and other opportunities vital to their development. BAOWE’s representative equates these missed opportunities as a major factor in Bhutan’s high rate of unemployment, especially among women. To combat this, BAOWE is working with the Ministry of Education to educate women on proper menstrual health and reusable sanitation towels which BAOWE is attempting to make available for all Bhutanese women.

Go Bhutan, another organization present, has a similar mission. They wish to provide greater access to sanitary napkins by producing low cost (30-40% less) napkins in vending machines open 24/7.

Recognizing the environmental and logistical problems associated with disposing sanitary napkins, Go Bhutan, has also invested in the first of its kind, sanitary napkin destroyer which will convert the napkins to sterile ash in a matter of seconds.

Go Bhutan has also created a social enterprise called Her Health Hygiene (HHH) to pursue a more holistic approach for girls to manage their periods and become agents of change within their communities.

All of these organizations were passionate during the conversations and thrilled to have an event that was solely for the purposes they had been championing for so long.

At the conclusion of the event attendees divided into groups of students, panelists and parents to create action plans for the issues discussed. “Girls’ Clubs” and “Mothers’ Clubs” were created and attendees volunteered for RENEW’s visits to rural areas to educate women on proper health practices.

During final addresses, the attendees expressed their eagerness to continue the work sparked with this event. The conversation has started and now it is up to those present to continue breaking menstruation taboos and sharing it with the rest of the Bhutanese community. 

- written by Sarah Cahlan

Kiran Gandhi Jams with Rupi Kaur: Exclusive Collaboration of Two Period Icons in NYC

Yesterday, something epic happened. #LetsFaceItPeriod united two artists who have been amongst the most prominent faces of the campaign: Kiran Gandhi, former drummer for M.I.A. who ran the London marathon without a tampon, and Rupi Kaur, the artist and poetess whose menstruation series was censored by Instagram.

The two icons turned DMNDR studios into their creative space and made magic happen when Kiran and Rupi sang and drummed together. It was a meeting of two incredible artists and powerful women that will make a lasting impression and inspire women to collaborate when it it comes to advancing women's rights and health. 

We can't wait to show you the result. The official video will be released in about three weeks. Visit Kiran's Instagram feed @madamegandhi for a sneak peak. 

Stay tuned and let's face it. Period. 
 

Mari Stiletto Malek explains how menstruation affects girls in South Sudan

and how #Letsfaceitperiod can empower them.

Model, DJ and founder of  Stand For Education, Inc. Mari Malek explains how #Letsfaceitperiod can change the lives of girls in South Sudan, the world's newest country that's been devastated by civil war.  

"Menstruation is not openly discussed in South Sudan - it is shameful. Girls in South Sudan are very much in need of sanitary products. They miss four to eight days of school due to lack of toilets, soap and sanitary products. 61 % of schools drop out of school completely because of menstruation."

Today, only 10% of girls go to school, which represents the lowest rate in the world and over 93% of women are illiterate.

"When I spoke to girls, they told me:  Girls' education is not the priority of parents,  because it costs more for parents that girls can go to school, because they need sanitary products."

#Letsfaceitperiod will help girls in South Sudan, in working with Stand For Education Inc. to supply reusable menstrual products to girls in South Sudan. 

Watch a demonstration of these products and hear Mari Malek in this recording of her google hang-out session on 14 September 2015.

Thank you, Mari, for your effort in helping girls stay in school!