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. 


Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist mixing rugby with politics
96422 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist …

by Clare de Lore

Australian-New Zealander Jennifer Curtin says the lopsided nature of the Bledisloe Cup pales in comparison to the slump in transtasman relations.

Read more
Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking flight
96439 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Music

Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking fligh…

by James Belfield

Don McGlashan is taking some old unloved songs on his New Zealand tour.

Read more
Are We There Yet? is the exhibition marking 125 years of women's suffrage in NZ
95961 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Arts

Are We There Yet? is the exhibition marking 125 ye…

by Linda Herrick

The exhibition at Auckland Museum shows there is still ground to make up.

Read more
Mr Wiki: Mike Dickison is NZ's first Wikipedian at large
96030 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Tech

Mr Wiki: Mike Dickison is NZ's first Wikipedian at…

by Elisabeth Easther

The entomologist will work on outreach programmes and recruiting editors to improve the sparse coverage of New Zealand topics.

Read more
Contemporary new cafe, Browne St, opens in Avondale
96454 2018-09-17 15:08:36Z Auckland Eats

Contemporary new cafe, Browne St, opens in Avondal…

by Alex Blackwood

New cafe, Browne St, combines Avondale's heritage with a modern fit-out.

Read more
The women's suffrage movement wasn't only a fight for the right to vote
96444 2018-09-17 12:23:48Z History

The women's suffrage movement wasn't only a fight …

by Sally Blundell

Suffrage was a stepping stone to other major social reforms for women.

Read more
Euthanasia: Australia is on the move
96401 2018-09-17 09:51:18Z Social issues

Euthanasia: Australia is on the move

by Graham Adams

Anyone keen to see assisted dying laws passed in New Zealand will be heartened by the increasing momentum of campaigns across the Tasman.

Read more
Broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan stands by her Pacific 'leeches' claim
96392 2018-09-17 06:30:40Z Social issues

Broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan stands by her…

by Colin Peacock

How some New Zealanders regard their Pacific neighbours was laid bare last week with comments from a radio host that she 'doubled down' on.

Read more