During ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice…
On March 9th and 10th, Next Generation Leadership Institute fellows Kalaya Sibley and Amaya Ronczyk, both from Dillard University, hosted ‘Feminine Care is Self-Care.’ The two-day event sought to promote feminine wellness, vaginal health, and provide students with free menstrual products. Below, Kalaya shares her experience combating vaginal health stigmas and period poverty on her campus.
According to Alliance for Period Supply, in Louisiana where Dillard University is located, 1 in 4 women and girls between the age of 12 and 44 live below the Federal Poverty Line, and 1 in 4 teens have missed school due to lack of access to period supplies. While Amaya and I knew there were many Reproductive Justice issues we could address on campus, we decided that tackling period poverty was a pressing issue that likely plagued more students than we realized.
We decided to make the effort a two-day event, with the first event being a virtual panel discussion, “Feminine Care is Self-Care,” featuring Dillard University’s Student Health Services provider and licensed practical nurse Lyntrell Picot. We aimed to ensure the panel discussion was a safe, intimate space for menstruating people to discuss all things feminine hygiene and wellness. Amaya and I curated a list of questions that we felt many menstruating people wanted to know but weren’t necessarily comfortable asking. The questions ranged from topics like vaginal health to sexual health.
After a fantastic and informative virtual panel discussion, Amaya and I hosted an in-person outdoor period supplies giveaway. When deciding which products to include, we focused on Black-owned, organic, and safe products. In addition to our purchases made possible by In Our Own Voice, the Honey Pot Company agreed to donate products for the giveaway. By the end of the event, Amaya and I managed to provide vaginal cleanser, pads, pantyliners, and tampons to 50 women on campus.
Because of the first period supply giveaway’s success, Amaya and I anticipate hosting a second giveaway in April.
Keep up with our Next Generation Leadership Institute fellows and their activism on and off campus here.