Conant clubs run period product drive to help refugee girls
Cultural Awareness and RISE are asking students to donate period products to the Cougar Cupboard and Girl Forward, an organization in Chicago that helps girls ages 14-21 who identify as refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. The drive begins on March 1 and ends on March 13.
While most sealed and unopened period products are accepted, the clubs prefer boxes of pads and liners. Cofounder of RISE Sanjana Rajesh, ‘21, explained, “A lot of the girls at Girl Forward aren’t comfortable with tampons and we want to provide for as many girls as possible.”
Rajesh and RISE cofounder Arina Shah, ‘21, explained the impact they want to leave on people.
Rajesh said, “18 states don’t have a tax on period products, meaning that 32 states do. In fact, many places tax period products as luxury items. Meanwhile, things like dandruff shampoo and bingo supplies are untaxed products in these states. This shows that many people don’t regard menstrual health products as a right and necessity.”
“[RISE] decided to partner with Cultural Awareness because March is Women’s History Month and we wanted to raise awareness and educate people about periods,” said Shah.
The drive ends on March 13, the date of the International Fair (IFair). Over 100 students are involved in IFair this year. There are two shows on March 13 including a daytime show during lunch periods for students and a nighttime show for parents. Audience members can purchase tickets for $5 or donate a box of period products to watch the night show. The money raised through ticket sales will be used to purchase more products to donate.
Rajesh said, “We also thought that using IFair, which is such a big platform, would be a really good idea. We would have a lot of people come [to the night show], donate products, and pay attention to what was happening because it’s such a big event.”
For the first week, Conant students are supposed to work with their second hour to collect products. The three classes that collect the most products will receive donuts as a prize from Mr. Langer. Students are to donate during their lunch periods for the second week of the drive. There will be a table in the cafeteria operated by Cultural Awareness and RISE members where students can donate products.
The clubs also wanted to do something different. Cultural Awareness sponsor Amy Spizzirri said, “Canned food drives and book drives have been done before. By asking for period products we are not only giving women what they need but also breaking a stigma by raising awareness for periods.”
The main goal of the drive is to provide period products to women who don’t have access to them. “There are some women, primarily in developing countries, that are denied an education because of their periods,” Spizzirri said. “By denying education to half of your country, you will continue to hold your country back.”
Cultural Awareness and RISE also want to change the way our school sees and treats periods. Currently, girls have to go to the nurse’s office to receive a period product if they do not have one, which is something many girls aren’t comfortable with. Shah said, “We want girls to be comfortable and realize they don’t have to hide the fact that they’re on their period.”