A community-led campaign in Northland wants to lift women out of ‘period poverty’, one cup at a time.
The Tukau Legacy Fund is encouraging women in Kawakawa and Moerewa to use menstrual cups as an alternative sanitary product.
They have partnered with social enterprise MyCup NZ, and with the help of local donations they have given out 500 cups already.
Moerewa resident Dianne Heta said using a menstrual cup changed her life.
“I’ve been using tampons for 30 years and I will never buy tampons again for myself. One, it’s saving me money but two, it’s more comfortable to wear. I don’t have to change it two, three, four times a day.”
Ms Heta said many families in Moerewa were desperately trying to make ends meet and believed the cups would lift some of the financial burden.
“Families up here are struggling to buy bread and milk so the last thing they can buy for themselves and their girls is tampons.
“I’m having a lot of conversations with mums of teenage girls around having this as an option, you know, give it a go.”
The menstrual cup is an alternative to tampons and they can be washed and re-used for up to 10 years.
It’s a topic many people shy away from but one campaign leader, Willow Jean-Prime, is determined to talk about.
Ms Prime raised the conversation last year at a local high school, and realised just how difficult it was for some women to manage their periods.
“There were girls, young women, who were missing school because their families couldn’t afford to pay for sanitary products.
“This really is something that illustrates the level of poverty that we have in our local community.”
She said the cup was going to have a massive impact on these communities.
“The impact of 500 cups is about $120,000 a year savings in these local communities.
“It is about 125 tampons diverted from landfill and our waste treatment plant so it really does have environmental benefits as well.”
Ms Prime said a single cup can save a woman up to $240 a year, and divert about 240 tampons from landfill and waste plants.
MyCup NZ first developed the cups two years ago and have agreed to give Northland communities one free cup with every cup purchased.
Its founder, Kimberli Schuitman, said every woman, regardless of her financial situation, deserved access to the best sanitary products.
“Why should a woman who is suffering with no money, no food, can’t pay for the next bill – why should she have to use the most hideous pads that are dished out to her?
“My big dream is that every woman should have access to a good, clean menstrual cup.”
MyCup NZ have recently applied for funding to develop a greater range of cup sizes for distribution into schools.