Nicole Cooney is attempting to make a difference in the fight against period poverty.
Period poverty occurs when women don’t have the proper access to sanitary products, or hygienic spaces in which to use them.
Ms Cooney’s initiative asks people in the Hunter to buy two pairs of period undies – available from most department stores or supermarkets – and donate them to women in need at collection points across the region.
She praised the work of groups like Share the Dignity, which provides free pads and tampons those suffering period poverty, and added her campaign was born out of her own struggles as a young woman.
“For the last 15 years, I have worked in a neighbourhood centre doing youth work,” she said.
“I’m personally quite passionate about plastic and the environment. [My initiative is] just taking it a step further and offering sustainable solutions.
“Solutions where we’re not using plastic, solutions that mean once you have a couple of pairs of underwear you can just wash them and we won’t need to buy pads and tampons.
“As we move forward, we need to also think about sustainable solutions for addressing periods. “The average woman uses something like 200 kilos of plastic in her bleeding life.
“We all need to take some responsibility and use less plastic, and this is a way we can do that.”
The cost of menstrual products has been an issue under debate in recent years, as campaigners have lambasted taxes levied on period products.
In 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to make menstrual products free for all.
Closer to home, the NSW Government announced this week it will trial free tampons and sanitary pads in public schools, following similar moves made in South Australia.
An estimated 800 million women and girls worldwide menstruate on any given day.
A study of 12 schools in Queensland found that period poverty was associated with school absenteeism and negative stigma, as well as mental health problems.
The leader of research, The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies lecturer, Dr Ruth Knight, said period poverty was an “under-researched” issue that suffers from societal taboos.
Ms Cooney said the goal of her campaign was to ensure that, in every high school in the region, “young women can face the world with confidence knowing that they are doing something that is environmentally conscious, and also doesn’t break the bank or doesn’t add pressure to them financially”.
Period undies drop-off points:
- Hunter Women’s Centre (60 Industrial Drive, Mayfield)
- Lifeline Newcastle (12 Maitland Road, Islington)
- Wallsend State MP Sonia Hornery’s Office (67 Nelson Street – Wallsend)
- Newcastle State MP Tim Crakanthorp’s Office (414 Hunter Street – Newcastle)
- Nine Ways Chiropractic (Unit 1, 7-9 Lambton Road, Broadmeadow)
- Maitland Library (480 High Street, Maitland)
- East Maitland Library (3 Garnett Road, East Maitland)