Accepting Periods

Ashlesha Mishra, Staff Writer

Amidst the many youth organizations that have been created by youngsters to drive their communities and society as a whole, three students from Issaquah High School have taken the initiative to address an issue that is present in most places around the world.

The concept of a female having periods is a topic that is less discussed and usually discouraged to talk about. The Hygiene For Her Team, Freshmen Vibha Shivarajan, Rachel Chalissery, and Varsha Bharath, say, “We realized that feminine hygiene products are often overlooked. While it’s not anyone’s fault that they’re not being distributed, a lack of hygiene products can result in a lot of health issues as well as lowering one’s dignity/ cleanliness… Our goal is to normalize [periods] to a point where women and girls don’t have to be embarrassed that they go through it.”

These students were inspired to begin their mission due to a “YouTube  video on how homeless women deal with their periods on the streets.” Realizing that this crisis is getting extremely minimal attention was shocking to them and while researching, they “came across something called the luxury tax. Essentially it places a sales tax on hygiene products because they are considered nonessential, ‘luxury’ items.” There are millions of people that tackle the problem of not being able to afford simple hygiene which many people overlook as it does not affect them.

In society today, social media platforms play a major role in spreading an idea and gaining youth engagement. Thus, the team decided to start Hygiene for Her via using a website.

As the team was kicking off their organization, the COVID-19 outbreak spread across the world and restricted the amount of work that they could accomplish. Although this shifted the method that they had originally planned, Hygiene for Her grew in a different way which proved to be beneficial to the group. Prior to the pandemic, their team intended “to participate in events around our community, such as the Issaquah Farmers Market, but the lockdown has made this impossible. Instead, we looked for ways to expand our influence from a safe social distance.” This gave them the idea to incorporate student representatives into their team and currently have over sixty representatives from all across Washington State.

The current situation that the world is in has proven to be absolutely terrible for the homeless as they are not able to receive the essential materials to survive. Hygiene for Her says, “The homeless community does not have access to the basic hygiene needed to protect themselves from the virus. They rely on homeless shelters, which do not have enough resources or volunteers to support them right now. In response to this, we have connected with over 65 students in our state, who are now our student representatives. So far, we’ve raised 1.2 thousand dollars in total. We recently made a donation of over 2,000 feminine hygiene products to Angeline’s Day Center in Seattle. Aside from donations, we’ve also contributed to our community in several other ways. We’re collecting cards to thank local healthcare workers, who have worked so hard to protect us during this global pandemic.”

Shivarajan, Chalissery, and Bharath have used this pandemic to help and support an unpopular cause and have grown extremely in only a few months. They, along with their student representatives, are “very excited for what the future will hold” and are discussing new projects to initiate as their team grows.