When Suzanne Lively saw a donation table for Feed Nova Scotia at a party last Christmas, she had a thought: women who can’t afford food probably can’t afford menstrual products.
That led Lively to launch the Friendly Divas Campaign this month. She hopes to raise $15,000 by Dec. 31 to buy 500 DivaCups for low-income women in the Halifax area.
Lively says a menstrual cup can last women one to five years, as opposed to tampons and pads which must be bought every month or so.
“It alleviates a huge problem for them, and it’s not just a one-off,” she says. “It helps the environment. That’s like, across the board we’re winning.”
A DivaCup is a bell shaped silicone menstrual cup that can be used as an alternative to tampons and pads. It can be worn for up to 12 hours and is reusable. They cost about $35 each.
Lively has contacted various women’s shelters and advocacy organizations, including YWCA Halifax, and they have agreed to distribute the menstrual cups.
YWCA executive director Miia Suokonautio would like 50 cups. She says some women at the YWCA are wary about them, but many are interested.
“For some women it won’t work at all,” Suokonautio says. “But for some women what we’re hoping for is that it will make a significant impact, in that it saves you a whole lot of money.”
Spending just $10 a month on menstrual products is a lot for some women, Suokonautio says. If a woman is getting $535 a month on social assistance that means nearly two per cent of her income is going toward her period.
At Atlantic Superstore, a package of 18 tampons costs $2.99, a package of 64 panty liners costs $3.49 and a package of 14 overnight maxi pads costs $3.49.
Lively has raised $1,805 as of this week and says most of the donations have come from the “everyday person” who wants to help out.
“I really hope we raise the $15,000,” she says. “But even if we don’t, everyone who’s contributed now can feel good; that they’ve helped somebody.”