THOUSANDS of Australian women will be doing the downward dog this weekend to raise funds for the 48,000 homeless females across the country.
The Yoga4Dignity event is run by Share the Dignity, a charity that distributes sanitary products to homeless women.
Founder Rochelle Courtenay says three years ago she read an article about disadvantaged Australian women having to use socks or wads of newspaper because they couldn’t afford sanitary products and she couldn’t believe this was happening in “a country like ours”.
So in 2015, she and her local community started collecting packets of pads and tampons to donate, and Ms Courtenay says once they had 450 packets, they were hi-fiving each other.
“But in reality, when 173,000 women turned to homelessness services for support in the last year alone, 450 packets was nothing,” she says.
Three years later Ms Courtenay’s idea has grown into a charity organisation that’s distributed 1.5 million sanitary products to women across the country.
She says they’re still only able to help about a quarter of the women who need them.
“One lady told me she had to use bits of torn-off foam mattress because that’s all she had,” says Ms Courtenay.
“We send pallet loads of packets out to remote indigenous communities up north, because sanitary items are so incredibly expensive up there.”
Last week Scotland became the first country to offer free sanitary products to school and university students in a bid to reduce the number of female students who skip class during their period because they are unable to afford sanitary products.
In Australia, the campaign to scrap the 10 per cent “tampon tax” continues, so Ms Courtenay’s organisation has set up 60 vending machines around the country to distribute free “period packs”.
This Saturday (September 1), Ms Courtenay is calling on all women to roll out their yoga mats and partake in Yoga4Dignity.
To get involved head to sharethedignity.com.au
by MOLLY SCHMIDT