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In university, I had a lot of people ask me what I was going to do with an English and Gender Studies double major. “Not too sure yet, but hopefully something interesting,” I would reply. Now that I’m working at Diva, a period company and one of many brands with social impact departments, I can say that “interesting” doesn’t even cover half of it.
My formal job title is Impact & Communications Coordinator. My job description says I assist with the facilitation of donations and impact communications on social media. What I actually do is a bit more complex than what my job title implies. My role requires a deeper look at the challenges caused by menstrual inequity.
Working in Impact
In my day-to-day, I review applications from across Canada and the U.S., and interact with hundreds of charities doing important work in their communities. Our youngest applicant writer was a 12-year-old girl in the U.S. looking to provide resources for other students who are getting their period for the first time. Clinics, remote communities, large NGOs, homeless shelters, grassroots organizations: I’ve seen it all come through our donation application portal.
I recognize daily I am working in a job that I could not have envisioned 5 years ago. Working on Diva’s Impact team is a huge privilege and responsibility. I hold a deep gratitude for the work I’m able to do, together with the people I’m able to help.
My job can be hopeful and awe-inspiring but in the same way, it’s a constant reminder of the sometimes-dystopian state of the world. With the release of Diva’s Impact Report, I reflected and stumbled upon an existential dilemma: my job shouldn’t exist.
Reflections of the present
At its core, brands with social impact implement these departments to address various problems that exist in a society. My job only exists because society deems access to menstrual products as a luxury. Unfortunately, patriarchy, policy failure, discrimination, and short-term capital gains all contribute to menstrual inequity.
In an ideal world, my job wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have to answer to endless applications for period product donations because period care would be accessible and affordable. Similarly, in an ideal world, comfortable period care wouldn’t fall on the shoulders of community organizations and members.
Our impact work at a Period Company like Diva
Menstrual inequity doesn’t stop at access to physical product either. Aside from these donations, Diva also provides many educational resources to address menstrual education gaps as well. Teachers, physiotherapists, and sexual health educators all request for educational resources for their practice.
In the past year alone, Diva donated over 780 educational demonstration kits to over 150 organizations across North America. We sent out 5700 menstrual health handbooks and 11,000 educational brochures to charity organizations. We hosted 58 free screenings of our educational documentary, Pandora’s Box: Lifting the Lid on Menstruation and our educational content on social media saw over 394,000 views.
While giving is part of the ethos of Diva, it should be the exception, not the norm. Menstrual and reproductive education is essential health information that should be easy to access. Yet, the onus falls on institutions that shouldn’t have to fill the gaps.
Hope for the future
It’s not all bad though and attitudes are changing. For example, period products are being made available in schools across North America for free. New Zealand made all period products free across the country last summer. Equally as important, many companies—and countries!—are implementing paid menstrual leave, including Diva.
My job shouldn’t exist, but for now it does. For the time being, I’ll continue to work towards creating a more equitable future and doing as much good as I can: donating DivaCups, sending out educational resources and smashing period stigma one conversation at a time.