THE Safe Cycle project is an ending period poverty campaign that seeks to educate the public and to offer 100 young people who menstruate, the tools, resources and education to aid them in having a safe menstrual cycle. The project is being spearheaded by the NGO Feminitt.
The NGO will be partnering with Caribbean Feminist, a youth led initiative dedicated to educating and empowering Caribbean feminists, led by Sapphire Alexander; and The Lily Pads Project, which aims to bring locally-made, eco-friendly period products to TT, led by Amy Li Baksh and MPhil candidate at the UWI IGDS, Shalinee Bahadur.
Feminitt founder Ashlee Burnett said the project is needed because of the way menstruation continues to be perceived.
“Menstruation in many homes, cultures and religion is demonised. Myths and stigma engulf this biological function in ways that make people who menstruate feel unsafe, alienated and ashamed. There are so many persons in TT who do not have access to these simple luxuries – a clean pad, painkillers when needed and the right foods to ensure that the body is not 'run down' after the bleeding ends.
"We recognised how easy it was to not take into consideration that there are people who just cannot afford to have a safe period, and how having the privilege to afford these necessities can make us forget that there are people who are unable to.”
Burnett said Safe Cycle aims to bring awareness to period poverty in TT and to ensure that at least 100 people are able to have access to safe, comfortable and healthy menstrual hygiene products.
“Safe Cycle is divided into three phases. The first is education, which will run throughout the project. Phase two entails the distribution of 100 period kits to people who are in need, and the third phase will be a needs assessment of the 100 people to determine who may need to have medical assistance to aid in having a safe cycle. Each person would then be matched with a Safe Cycle team member to help plan out a way forward to help them have a safe period.”
Feminitt is an intersectional Caribbean feminist NGO that seeks to advance gender equality in the Caribbean through social good, conversation and education. Inter-sectional feminism recognises that the issues faced by women are not related only to their gender, but also by their class, race, social, educational and socio-economic standing. Feminitt consists of a team of five people – Burnett, Chanelle Beatrice, Latifya Edwards, Xala Ramesar and Elisa Bartholomew.
Burnett said period poverty is an issue that isn’t on the frontline of many conversations by those in leadership.
“We saw that gap and decided to attempt to fill it or at least contribute and amplify the work of other civil society organisations who saw this need and worked in that area. Being able to have a safe cycle is a human right. It is a slice of having good health and well-being.”
Burnett said the organisation will be contacting councillors, schools and people in communities around TT to suggest those who are in need. Feminitt is seeking donations and sponsorship to ensure the project meets the needs of the many who menstruate and are unable to safely maintain their cycle. She said the proceeds will be strategically used for products and services to the target audience of this project, including period kits and gynaecologist consultations.
Anyone interested in donating to the project can contact the NGO via: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-868-735-9828.”