The Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals (HFYP) has joined the global movement to end period poverty with its Gifts of Dignity- Feminine Hygiene initiative which involves giving women and girls access to feminine hygiene products such as sanitary pads, liners and tampons through philanthropic mobilization.
Period Poverty is “a global issue affecting women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products, and/or who are unable to manage their periods with dignity- in some cases, women and girls have limited access, leading to prolonged use of the same tampons or pads, which can cause infection.” (Action Aid 2020).
Globally, “about one in four people between 13 to 35 have reported that they have found it harder to manage their periods since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey done by WASH United, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and UNICEF. According to this same survey, 47% of people who menstruate have found it more difficult to access menstrual supplies since the pandemic, says Ina Jurga, international coordinator for the Global Menstrual Hygiene Day.” (Alicia Napierkowski, 2020)
The Heliconia Foundation believes that we have a civic responsibility to ensure that our women and girls are protected from period poverty especially during a pandemic which on its own merit has contributed to grave economic hardship and has worsened the livelihood of many families and communities.
As a socially responsible and philanthropic organization, during the pandemic, the HFYP has contributed over 2500 feminine hygiene products to women and girls in communities across Trinidad and Tobago with the kind support of its members and corporate sponsors. More recently, in the month of December, the Foundation through the leadership of Ms. Marianne Fraser of its Women’s Arm and in collaboration with Mr. Hillan Morean, Deputy Mayor of Port of Spain, extended its Gifts of Dignity- Feminine Hygiene outreach to the St. Jude’s Home for Girls and the Bethlehem Girls R.C. The Foundation’s efforts were well-received by the St. Jude’s Home and the Bethlehem Girls R.C who commended the Foundation for its Gifts of Dignity and encouraged the continuation of its work in this area which was too often overlooked.
The Heliconia Foundation echoes the views of former UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Sanjay Wijesekera that “meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health” and anticipates that this initiative will become one of the cornerstones of its philanthropy efforts alongside its pro-bono Medical and Legal Outreach Clinics. The HFYP endeavours to partner with other socially conscious and responsible persons and entities to expand the impact of its work in this area in 2021 and beyond. Interested parties are invited to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.