We recently needed a new system for distributing sanitary wear to women that respected their dignity.
When we first arrived in Greece 2 years ago, the warehouses had a lot of sanitary pads. There were also tampons but the demand for those is practically zero. So for a long time, we could let people take what they wanted. A few months ago, they all ran out. So we have been making do with the occasional ad hoc donation or by buying them locally.
Why distribute pads
People on the camps receive cash but there is no additional cash for women to cover their sanitary wear. And there are some 5-10% of people on the camps who are unregistered who do not receive cash.
We know that some women will make do without buying them and they are an important part of a dignified life.
Distribution with dignity
Putting them in the shop and letting people take them whenever they wanted is the most dignified way. But some women would stockpile them. It is a sad fact of life on the camps that the insecurity will lead some to grab what they can while it is there. We cannot fund stockpiling as it would jeopardise our ability to offer them at all.
What we needed was a system that:
- recognised there is still some embarrassment about getting them
- enabled us to distribute them without any sense of shame
- kept some control over scarce resources.
How do we do it
Thanks to Carry the Future, we are already distributing nappies/ diapers using a voucher system which works well so we settled on that. The nappies/ diapers are distributed through the shop weekly and women’s cycles being monthly we had to make a couple of small changes.
Each female who needs pads has a voucher that they can give to the volunteer when they come to the market.
Like nappies/ diapers, the volunteer collects two packets of 12 pads from our store and gives them to the person asking. We almost always have female volunteers working in the shop (about 80% of our volunteers are women).
Each voucher has a month written on it so we tick that off when the pads are handed over and they can then collect 2 more packets next month.
We can only do this thanks to the fantastic support of our partners Carry the Future and all the other donors and volunteers that enable us to have a regular, consistent presence on the camp.