Social enterprise delivers free tampons to teenagers

by Anusha Bradley / 04 July, 2017
Company co-founders Jacinta Gulasekharam, left, and Miranda Hitchings.
A Wellington high school has started receiving free sanitary products thanks to two young social entrepreneurs.

For every box of tampons bought by companies through a monthly subscription service, the social enterprise Dignity will give a box to a school in need.

Xero and Flick Electric are the first to sign up, providing one school with free products from The Organic Initiative, a New Zealand-based sanitary product company.

Another two schools will start receiving supplies soon.

Co-founders Miranda Hitchings, 22, and Jacinta Gulasekharam, 21, came up with the idea in November after attending an entrepreneurs boot camp at Victoria University.

After struggling with the high cost of tampons themselves they were inspired by other social enterprise models and reports that other girls were not going to school when they had their period, simply because they couldn't afford to buy sanitary products.

"It resonated with so many people, I really wanted to do something about it," said Jacinta.

"And Miranda and I talked so much about the cost of sanitary items, and we didn't have much to do over summer, so we applied for the Victoria University entrepreneurial boot camp and made up Dignity, and made it our mission to make sanitary items affordable and accessible for all New Zealand women."

Xero head of HR Linda Bateson said it was an easy way to give something back to the community.

"Particularly when you look at the fact that there are lots of girls not going to school because they've got their period, can't afford sanitary items and are missing out on that vital education.

"That's a big thing that we're trying to advocate for - females getting into STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths], ultimately getting into tech. And this is kind of something we could do at that grassroots level to support girls."

'It's just like any other office consumable'

Flick Electric general counsel Nikki Bloomfield said providing free sanitary products had made the lives of some of its female employees "just a little bit easier".

All its staff supported the idea, she said.

"It sounds like something that you should feel really awkward about. But actually as soon as you just kind of think about what we're actually providing it's just like any other office consumable."

Ms Hitchings said the reaction from prospective clients was mixed but she believed every conversation it had with businesses helped break down the taboo surrounding periods.

"Some people have been a bit cautious about talking about it, and because me and Jacinta talk about periods all day long we forget there's this taboo. But once we talk more about with businesses they become more open to the idea, so it's really really cool."

Another Wellington-based organic tampon company Change To Green is doing a similar thing. For every box it sells it gives away a box to a charity supplying sanitary products to homeless women.

This story was first published on the RNZ website. 


The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne Carter's rise to the top
107207 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Music

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne…

by Mike White

Shayne Carter’s career has been wild and acclaimed. But his just-released memoir reveals the drama and trauma going on behind the scenes.

Read more
Rare photos of the Straitjacket Fits by Brian Murphy
The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypothermia
107150 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Television

The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypot…

by Diana Wichtel

Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale packs a punch, despite some implausible scenes, writes Diana Wichtel.

Read more
Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not guilty to all charges
107204 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Crime

Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not gu…

by Anneke Smith

The man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges laid against him.

Read more
One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidable in NZ Parliament
107183 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Politics

One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidab…

by Bevan Rapson

Despite overdue efforts to improve Parliament's culture, political biffo will always be with us.

Read more
The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on the skids – it's a good thing
107144 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on…

by The Listener

Transport officials’ enthusiasm for a sweeping lowering of speed limits looks set to go the way of the once-proposed ban on cats in dairies.

Read more
Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching the right people?
107185 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching t…

by Phil Pennington

New Zealanders who feel they've done nothing wrong have found themselves under surveillance by the state and say they've been left nervous.

Read more
Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life in WWII-era Germany
107122 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Movies

Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life i…

by James Robins

Epic drama captures an artist navigating the upheavals of Nazi and post-war Germany.

Read more