Her Drive: Using TikTok to Fight Period Poverty
The term “period poverty” describes the inability of girls and women to afford menstrual products such as pads and tampons. Though these items are essential to women, many areas of the world still tax menstrual products and the products are not eligible for coverage under food stamps. Her Drive is an organization with the aim of addressing period poverty in order to empower and uplift girls and women across the world.
The Impacts of Period Poverty
Low-income women often cannot afford the costs of menstrual products and turn to less sanitary alternatives such as rags or paper towels. These alternatives pose health risks and increase the chance of infections and irritation. The inability to afford menstrual products also takes a mental toll on women, leading to depression and anxiety. Furthermore, period poverty can impede women’s professional lives, keeping them trapped in poverty. Improperly managed periods can stop girls and women from attending school or going to work, which keeps them in cycles of poverty. Period poverty is a pressing issue that hurts women’s physical and mental health and perpetuates the poverty cycle.
People often avoid addressing the problem of period poverty because of the stigma around periods. Many people think of periods as a shameful process that they should not speak of rather than a normal biological process. Menstrual stigma means women suffer in silence. Fortunately, with the rise of social media, organizations and movements aim to end menstrual stigma and educate people on menstruation in order to address period poverty. Through these advocacy efforts, campaigns and relief initiatives garner support to provide menstrual products to girls and women who cannot afford them.
Her Drive Addresses Period Poverty
Best friends Alexa Mohsenzadeh and Jenica Baron founded Her Drive in 2020. Her Drive got its start from a viral video posted on TikTok, a popular social media platform that allows users to post short videos. The pair’s first TikTok video simply intended to promote a tampon and bra drive, but after it went viral, the girls decided to transform their project into a Chicago-based organization.
Her Drive collects menstrual products to donate to “women’s shelters, indigenous reservations, Black-owned businesses and refugee support programs” as well as other vulnerable groups. The organization has held menstrual drives in more than 40 U.S. states and extended its reach to Canada as well. Her Drive has also provided guidance to organizations looking to create similar drives in countries such as the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico. In support of vulnerable indigenous groups, Her Drive donated menstrual products to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund and the poverty-stricken Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Her Drive’s goal is also to “empower and educate the next generation of youth leaders to work to eliminate period poverty in their local communities.” Her Drive has collected more than 165,000 period products in addition to thousands of bras and general hygiene items. What began as a simple TikTok video grew into an international organization that is combating period poverty and helping vulnerable girls and women.
Impact of Social Media
Period poverty is still a prevalent issue, but social media is helping to create awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation. By leveraging social media, organizations are amassing volunteers and donors to help combat period poverty across the world.
– Alison Ding