AS a cash-strapped single mum on benefits Celia Hodson understands first-hand the difficulties of stretching already tight budgets to the monthly necessity of sanitary protection.
As a result, she and daughters Becky and Kate have set up an innovative social enterprise in a bid to help women in poverty across the UK access sanitary towels for free.
Hey Girls sells their own brand of pads online on a “buy one get one” basis that encourages buyers with a social conscience to do their bit towards period poverty – and all profits go directly to women and girls in need.
The Dunbar-based trio believe that access to sanitary protection is a “right not a privilege”. And they share the philosophy that no girl or young woman should have to compromise their health and wellbeing.
Their new website that launched in January provides free sanitary towels as well as educational resources that they hope will help women manage menstruation safely and without infection. For every pack sold online they give a pack away to women in need via shelters, women’s organisations and food banks.
Hey Girls offers two kinds of their environmentally friendly no-leak, chlorine and bleach-free towels with plans to broaden the range in the future.
The idea for the socially and ethically responsible business model started “out of a heated discussion between me and my daughters that resulted in a big, hairy, audacious goal”, says Celia. “We simply wanted to work out if we could fix period poverty and what that would look like.”
“It is so important that we seek sustainable ways to address period poverty in the UK that are not reliant on the Government. If you have to buy menstrual products anyway, you may as well do something good with the cost.
“Hey Girls provides an alternative shopping experience for those wishing to make a difference with the items they purchase for themselves. By buying social they are doing good directly via each pack they buy.”
In Scotland one in five women has experienced period poverty, according to a poll carried out by grassroots political organisation Women for Independence. It was found that nearly one in five women surveyed used items of clothing, loo roll and newspapers as alternatives as they had been forced to prioritise other household essentials such as food.
Feelings of shame and isolation were reported with many missing out on work and education as a result and 11 per cent had suffered a “significant health impact” from not being able to change their products as often as would have liked.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon has called for sanitary protection to be provided to all women in Scotland for free in places such as schools.