LOCAL women are getting behind a nationwide charity to make life a little easier for women experiencing homelessness and poverty.
Renae Mawley and Cindy Petersen are part of the Share the Dignity initiative, and are calling on Gippslanders to donate pads, tampons and other personal hygiene products to distribute to women in and around the region.
The April Dignity Drive is on, and for the entire month sanitary products can be placed in the collection box at Australian Hearing, opposite the IGA supermarket in Sale, for distribution by welfare organisations.
Ms Mawley said women experiencing financial or personal difficulties were often unable to buy essential sanitary products.
She said the drive was a small way to alleviate the undignified situations that many women were forced to endure.
Ms Petersen said Share the Dignity had also recently petitioned the federal government to put an end to taxing sanitary products, which should not be considered a luxury.
In Australia, all feminine hygiene products are classed as ‘non-essential items’, and are not included in the federal government’s list of important health goods such as sunscreen, condoms and nicotine patches.
Yet these “non-essential items” require Therapeutic Goods Association approval, something which only applies to medical items.
Ms Peterson said the disparity in the argument about luxury items was highlighted by the recent 792,985-signature petition to stop the beer tax, while the Share the Dignity “axe the tax” petition collected about 104,000 signatures.
“That just shows you the imbalance,” she said.
Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay said the April Dignity Drive aimed to collect 200,000 packets of pads and tampons.
“When they cannot have access to the essential feminine products women become extremely resourceful ... by using wadded up newspaper, or toilet paper, or socks.
“This should not be happening,” she said. “Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury, therefore they should not be taxed.
“Women who cannot afford them have no way of pursuing a normal public or private life and are at risk of jeopardising their health.”