At the end of last year (2022), I ran a donation drive for period products for Go With The Flow. I had been wanting to do something in this space for a while so when I came across GTWF on Instagram and I got in touch. I love what they are doing, their openness and how they approach the subject of periods is refreshing. Their Instagram feed is loud and bold and that's exactly how we should be about this subject.
When I announced the donation drive on Instagram, I was not expecting such a response. As always, there was a very positive reaction to help from the UBU Community, but even more so, there was shock that period poverty was an issue here in Singapore. Which is what really surprised me!
I’ve had some great conversations about it and got asked a lot of questions that I didn't have the answers for myself. It made me realise I need to educate myself better on this and also that more awareness about period poverty is needed. So I’ve put together this little piece on it, with more links to information at the end.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, and also much more. It also includes the lack of education, hygiene facilities and/or waste management. People who experience period poverty are unable to purchase the menstrual products they need, which often means that they cannot go to school or work and it affects how they normally participate in daily life. Period poverty causes challenges that can be physical, mental, and emotional and often causes the person to feel shame for menstruating, creating a stigma surrounding periods, which prevents individuals from talking about it.
According to the Household Expenditure Survey, the bottom 20% of Singaporean households spend an average of S$2,570 per month yet earn only S$2,235 a month. This places them at a monthly shortfall of S$335 - a shortage of over $4,000 per year.
A packet of pads is cost an average of S$6 each, which is S$72 a year per menstruator. And each household is often made up of more than one person of menstruating age. That cost adds up. Sanitary pads will not be the first priority on the shopping lists of low-income households, when basics such as groceries and school items are needed.
"Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health,"
- Sanjay Wijesekera, former UNICEF Chief of Water
Go With The Flow - working to eradicate Period Poverty in Singapore.
Who are GWTF? How did it start?
Go With The Flow is an organisation that aims to bridge gaps in access to menstrual healthcare in Singapore. One of the co-founders, Evonne Chng, volunteers regularly with Braddell Heights Food Distribution. She noticed that there was a gap in the provision of ‘essentials’ to low-income households. She then came up with the idea of creating an organisation that provided essential menstrual products and roused her friends to join the campaign with her. Go With The Flow was launched in Decemeber 2020.
GWTF currently have 14 donation boxes across the country. They collect donations, sort them and distribution them to over 500 beneficiaries every month.
Want to help? Here’s what you can do.
1. Donate products
GTWF have donation boxes around the country where you can drop off donations of menstrual healthcare products (sealed packs of sanitary pads / new reusable period products). They are in need of all types of sanitary pads - day, night or pantyliner, all sizes and thickness, winged and unwinged.
Each month, each beneficiary receives a pack of night, day and liner pads each. GWTF needs a minimum of 2,400 packets of pads every month. Sometimes they fall short but thankfully, they have partnered with large corporations such as Kotex who help fill in the gaps in donations when necessary.
GWTF also accept reusable period products. They are partnered with organisations such as The Period Co. to distribute reusable period products to beneficiaries who request for them, however more donations of this kind would be helpful to open up more options for beneficiaries.
All donations must be fully sealed and unopened.
2. Donate cash
GWTF is also an official registered charity in Singapore. You can also support them via PayNow donations.
Entity name: GO WITH THE FLOW
Please write ‘cash donation’ under reference
GTWF are looking for volunteers to help across the board. At the moment, the main group of volunteers they are in need of are volunteer drivers who can deliver care packages to their beneficiary organisations.
You can find out more about volunteering for GWTF here - https://www.gowiththeflowsg.com/volunteer
4. Speak up
Something we can all do to help - the biggest call for action that Go With The Flow promotes and asks for - is to speak up about issues surrounding menstruation. There is a large stigma surrounding menstruation and anything related to that in Singapore. This prevents menstruators from speaking up or seeking help regarding the issues that they may be facing.
Source - DAVID TALUKDAR/Getty Images
Along with commiting to more donation drives for GWTF in the future and volunteering when I can, I want to help promote them, their work and speak up about period poverty. This is part of that.
If you are keen to help, do get in touch with them or please contact me and I will add you to the notification list to let you know when I am running my next donation drive.
Big thank you to Shakthi at GWTF for all her help and patience, helping me organise the donation drive, dropoff of donations and answering all my questions.
Want to learn more? Here’s some articles & videos I found helpful / interesting: