Network of Women NOW founder Deidra Mwalimu is focused on ending "period poverty" in Baton Rouge and beyond. Photo courtesy Network of Women NOW.

Network of Women NOW’s End Period Poverty Campaign is working to bring a hidden problem to the forefront

According to a 2021 study by U by Kotex, 2 in 5 people who menstruate have struggled to find affordable period products. This lack of access can cause discomfort and embarrassment, and impact attendance at school or work.

Network of Women NOW is working to remedy this with its first-ever End Period Poverty Campaign. This Friday, September 30, the local organization will begin its fundraising and community outreach efforts in Baton Rouge. According to founder and CEO Deidra Mwalimu, proceeds will go toward donating “Ubibi bags,” care packages containing feminine products and hygiene supplies, to LSU’s food bank.

Founder and CEO of Network of Women Deidra Mwalimu. Photo by Destin McMurray of Ameer Image.

“I spoke with the manager at the LSU Food Bank, and he told me that 50 to 53% of the people that frequent the food pantry are females,” she said. “Whenever someone donates feminine hygiene products, those products are gone within 24 to 48 hours because they are in demand.”

The campaign will kick off with the release of an informational video this Friday on the organization’s YouTube channel. Network of Women NOW was founded in 2020, but this is the nonprofit’s first outreach event in the United States, so the video will serve as its official introduction to the community.

On Saturday, October 1, Network of Women NOW will host its End Period Poverty cocktail party at The Guru, complete with live music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are available for purchase online here.

After the cocktail party, the organization will shift gears to its 10-day supplies drive. Network of Women NOW is accepting donations of feminine hygiene products and other essentials like deodorant, soap and toothpaste at 16 different locations— five on LSU’s campus and 11 at Athleta stores throughout the South. The organization also has a GoFundMe page and an Amazon wishlist available for online donations.

The campaign will close out on the evening of October 11 with a free online panel discussion on Network of Women NOW’s Instagram. Speakers will include President of the Woman’s Rural Network in Nepal Gomi Devi Bastola, Strategic Partnerships Coordinator of The Pad Project Sophie Ascheim and local OB/GYN Lydia Lewis.

“Someone recently told me that they did not know what period poverty was,” Mwalimu says. “And I’m saying, ‘Well, this will be a great opportunity for everybody to be educated.'”

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