Indiana Daily Student

IU Oxfam Club starts period challenge

After a petition that was brought about by IU senior, Jo DiBenedetto, local restuarnts and businesses as well as the homeless who sleep in People's Park share their opinions about the petition.
After a petition that was brought about by IU senior, Jo DiBenedetto, local restuarnts and businesses as well as the homeless who sleep in People's Park share their opinions about the petition.

For America’s female homeless population, one week every month can be a nightmare.

Women that can barely find enough money to purchase food cannot afford menstrual products, and one IU club wants to help women in Bloomington with this problem.

Members of the IU Oxfam Club started a social media challenge this month where students post a photo or video of themselves buying menstrual products that will later be donated to Bloomington’s Middle Way House.

They said they hope this challenge will make students more aware of the struggle homeless women face.

“We want to model it after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because that went viral,” said Aamina Khan, IU Oxfam Club president.

While she said she doesn’t believe the Btown Period Challenge will go nearly as viral as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, she said she enjoys how it encourages people to tag one another and spread awareness of this issue.

Students wishing to participate in the challenge can post their photos or videos and tag the Oxfam Club. Any items that are to be donated can be taken to the fourth floor of the student activities tower in the Indiana Memorial Union.

Homeless women’s lack of access to pads and tampons is not an issue people often think about, Khan said. Because people don’t recognize the issue, shelters like Middle Way House don’t carry large amounts of these products.

“People don’t really think about donating them,” Khan said. “I know I always just donate food.”

Without donations, it is nearly impossible for homeless women to get these products due to the fact that they can be very expensive.

Both Khan and Bailey Hasler, IU Oxfam Club secretary, said they can’t imagine how these women must feel not having products to handle their periods 
properly.

“I suspect that it would be incredibly embarrassing, having to admit that yes, you know your pants are stained, but there is nothing you can do about it,” Hasler said. “I imagine that it would make a week that is already physically uncomfortable even worse.”

Khan said she feels uncomfortable when she is in public without a tampon or pad in her purse or backpack.

“It must be a nightmare every single month for these people,” Khan said.

With an idea of how these women must feel, Khan said this issue is important and one she hopes many more will soon understand through the Btown Period Challenge.

The stigma of periods may have students uneasy about participating in the challenge, Khan said, but she has seen that participating with friends can often help people overcome their reluctance.

After Hasler posted her video on 
Instagram, she said she received a very positive response.

“People responded to my video with ‘I love this!’ or ‘This is great!’” Hasler said. “No person had a negative comment to share.”

The largest amount of positive response came from the people she nominated, she said. All promised to make their videos within the next week.

Both Khan and Hasler said they hope the challenge has a lasting influence on students that post about it or simply view photos or videos that someone else has posted.

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