We are excited to welcome Diandra Kalish, founder of UnTabooed - an organization committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation by providing menstrual health education and sustainable menstrual products to women in need, and promoting conversation among people everywhere.
We asked Diandra to tell us more about her vision for UnTabooed and her plans for the future.
1 -What brought you to this topic of menstrual management?
In January, I came across Lisa De Bode’s article in Al Jazeera America about the challenges that homeless women across America face during their periods. As some one who has donated many bags of food and clothing, it had never occurred to me to donate feminine hygiene products. I started to do some research, and learned that many developing nations were using reusable feminine hygiene products to make sure women had consistent access to products during their periods. At this point, I had been using a menstrual cup for over 2 years, and wondered why no one had tried to implement the same solution in the United States.
2 -You must have thought a lot about why menstruation is still such a taboo topic even in the US – could you share some thoughts with us?
I think in the US it comes down to the fact that so many people, men and women, still find menstruation gross and embarrassing. If you use reusables you are removing the ’ick’ factor associated with periods. You are much more in tune with your body and your flow. You are not just disposing of it, which is why it is considered gross in the first place. I've even spoken to other people who are part of the movement (to break the stigma surrounding menstruation), who talk about the embarrassment they feel when shopping for pads or tampons. Even I blushed when talking about UnTabooed at the beginning, but now it's just another topic of conversation.
3 -Many people are beginning to be aware of the importance of girls and women in developing countries having access to sanitary facilities and menstrual hygiene products. How large a problem is this in the US though? And for particular groups of women and girls?
Many people don't realize that girls and women in the US are facing the same hardship when it comes to access to feminine hygiene products. Pads and tampons are subject to tax in most states (in New York City it is 8.75%), which makes products even harder to afford for women who are struggling to make ends meet. Additionally, these products aren't covered by food stamps. Low income women, especially those living in shelters, are typically hit the hardest. They rely on the shelters for many resources, but shelters often don't receive enough pads and tampons through donations to serve their clients. UnTabooed works specifically to reach this group of people, to alleviate the stress of wondering if they will have products each month.
4 - How do you plan to grow in 2016 to address this problem and how can we help (besides donating, of course)?
We are hoping to expand to other cities in the USA in 2016! We also would like to bring our workshops to more college and university campuses. Please contact us if you are interested in being involved as a volunteer or a workshop host. Talk to everyone you know about periods to help us break the taboo, and wear around this awesome #ReusePeriod to help raise awareness for our cause.
Visit www.untabooed.org to learn even more!