Women’s business grows and grows

Imagine being excluded from school at 12, or not being able to afford sanitary products. Menstruation stigma affects millions around the world, with periods considered unclean or even a disease in some countries.

Tackling these taboos and ‘period poverty’ has set Flinders University student Eloise Hall on a career trajectory she never imagined when she and best friend Isobel Hall dreamt up the social enterprise in high school.

TABOO Sanitary Products, launched in 2016, now has a strong Adelaide Australian team of 10 core volunteers and an ambassador database of 80 dedicated supporters around Australia and now overseas in Canada, India and the UK. It is expanding its range of ethically sourced pads and tampons to supermarkets and other outlets to subsidise its humanitarian and charitable work here and abroad.

International Women’s Day (8 March) is an ideal opportunity to back businesses run by women for girls and women, says fourth-year Business and International Relations student Eloise Hall, 21, during an intensive class at Flinders University Victoria Square.

Eloise Hall at an international relations lecture at Flinders University, Victoria Square.

“We’re gearing up for another big year, particularly on the back of heightened awareness from Isobel’s Young Australian of the Year Award,” says Ms Hall, who supported her business partner with her award nomination.

“We are really focused on taking all the opportunities from the award, expanding our retail supermarket distribution network and sales along with our stigma breaking campaigns and other media opportunities.”

Eloise and Isobel were ‘Girl About Town Rising Star’ finalists and winners in last week’s 2021 SA Woman of the Year Awards staged by The Advertiser and Sunday Mail.

SA’s Chief Medical Officer Flinders University Professor Nicola Spurrier was announced Leader of the Year in the Advertiser-Sunday Mail awards while Flinders alumna Rikki Cooke (BBehavSc(Psych) ’14, MSW ’17) took out the Inspiration award with her charitable enterprise Treasure Boxes.

Rikki Cooke, founder of Treasure Boxes

Ms Cooke, a social worker and emergency carer, founding her sustainable charity in 2015, with a mission to provide children’s goods to families at risk of poverty and homelessness, and fleeing domestic violence. Last year, more than 7500 treasure boxes supported more than 1500 babies and children. Coupled with a strong environmental focus, as it rehomes preloved items, Treasure Boxes is one of SA’s fastest growing children’s charities.

All TABOO’s net profits are sent to its charity partner (One Girl), a Melbourne-based charity which works in Sierra Leone and Uganda to fight period poverty.

Locally, TABOO partners with Australian organisations such as the Vinnie’s Women’s Crisis Centre to supply free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia.

Ms Hall says her Flinders University studies have been put directly into practical experiences with TABOO, giving endorsement to her business management and leadership skills.

“International relations studies equip me with the knowledge to understand and negotiate with government and interconnectivity between government agencies and the larger picture informs on global trends.”

• In Sierra Leone, girls miss around 50 school days every year due to their period.
• 65% of women in Kenya cannot afford sanitary products.
• In India, 70% of all reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
• 1 in 10 girls in the UK have been unable to afford proper sanitary care.
• 48% of girls in Iran believe menstruation is a disease

“The reality is that 30 per cent of girls in developing countries still drop out of school because of menstruation,” Ms Marshall said in Canberra as she accepted the Young Australian of the Year Award last year.

“We have a responsibility to acknowledge our privilege and use our resources to lift others up.

“Our mission is simple: to fight period poverty … to fight menstrual stigma around the globe. Those on your period, expect respect in place of shame.”

#ChoosetoChallenge is the theme of International Women’s Day #IWD2021. Flinders University Student Association (FUSA) is staging special IWD activities at Bedford Park campus. 

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by more than a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.

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