Herstory

On a mission to increase girls access to menstrual hygiene products in schools so their periods do not become a barrier to education.

Photo of Bridget McManamon
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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

January 4th, 2000

Help us stay in touch!

701-630-2087 854 32nd St S, Moorhead, MN 56560

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: www.rewriteherstory.org Instagram: rewrite.herstory Facebook: Herstory Link to my Ted Talk which covers this idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBpR5GiCA10

Date You Started Your Project Started

June 14th, 2016

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Aunt Flo, Leak Week, On the Rag; whatever you may call it, periods are a part of life! Yet in today's schools period products are hidden in the nurse's office and periods are treated in a shameful way. If girls are worried about where their next tampon is coming from they can't be focused on their academics. Herstory works to make sure all girls have access to menstrual hygiene products so their periods are not a distraction to their education.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Inspired by my own period struggles, I started Herstory as a way to increase women's access to menstrual hygiene products and empower them to have a better understanding of their physical wellbeing. We approach this from three avenues, first, we work with national and international women's shelters to provide period kits to disadvantaged women. Next, we work with businesses to outfit their restrooms with free period products for employees and customers. And finally, we have a HUGE focus on education as we work with schools to ensure period products are conveniently located in school restrooms and in providing additional products to female students that are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Our goal is to ensure that a period never becomes a distraction or a barrier to education. We truly believe that by increasing women's access to menstrual hygiene products, they will feel comfortable in their bodies and have the confidence to reach their full potential. Lack of access to menstrual hygiene products is a dangerous problem around the world but also in our very own communities, I believe Herstory has a unique approach to solve this "bloody" problem!

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I was 13 years old when I had my first period, but something went terribly wrong. Suddenly, I started having extremely heavy periods and chronic nose bleeds that lasted for hours. I was later diagnosed with Von Willebrand's Disease, Menorrhagia and a severe platelet disfunction. These health issues combined made my period debilitating and provided me with countless embarrassing period situations, especially at school. Far too often I would run out of tampons in class and have to trek to the nurse's office to grab one. Not only did I miss out on valuable class time, it was also an embarrassing and shameful experience. Even as an 8th grader I knew something had to be done to make period products more accessible in school restrooms and to ensure low income students had additional access to vital hygiene products. Through the creation of Herstory I found a solution to these problems!

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

One of my favorite ways to get people involved is by having them host a period packing party! Basically, a group gets together to make several hundred (or sometimes several thousand) period supply kits. The kits are distributed to disadvantaged women, as well as female students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch. In my former school district there were over 3,100 middle and high school female students eligible, meaning they could not always afford food, let alone pricey pads and tampons! The kits are filled with enough pads and tampons to last a full cycle, an extra pair of underwear and a few assorted travel size hygiene products. We hold several parties per month with various community groups as the hosts. For example, my high school's student council regularly puts together and distributes kits and its always fun to see the male students getting involved and educated!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

There are several other organizations that work to address similar issues, such as Period and Aunt Flo, but Herstory is set apart. We operate in a small, rural town on the MN-ND border, a conservative area where periods are seldom talked about. Its safe to say there are no other organization in the region like Herstory which makes us unique as we strive to destigmatize periods and raise awareness. Additionally, other period organizations often focus solely on homeless women in other countries. This is obviously important but we have a US community focus and have 3 unique and distinct avenues.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Herstory has been around for 3 years and our impact is undeniable! By the numbers we have raised over $15,000 in donations and grants, distributed 4,000 period kits which is equivalent to over 40,000 individual pads and tampons, worked with 30 community partners spread across 4 midwestern states and outfitted 3 school districts and 16 businesses with period products in the restrooms. Herstory has also received sponsorships from Ann Taylor, Vital Voices and The National Chamber of Commerce. Impact can also be seen in the events we have hosted, a “Periods and Race” event to encourage dialogue on awkward subjects and an annual event partnership with UCodeGirl to encourage their camp participants to utilize technology to solve gender issues. Lastly, impact can be seen with local and national media coverage Herstory has received and speaking opportunities like on the TED stage.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Herstory is just getting started and I have many plans for the future! First, we are in the process of securing 5o1c3 status and that should be completed in the next year. Next, I am launching an exciting policy campaign that will require period products to be located in school restrooms in my state. I am currently working with lawmakers and we hope to follow the lead of states like New York and Illinois. I also am creating a Youth Board to act as a decision making body for the organization and to get more young people involved. Lastly, I recently launched a social media campaign called "Period Stories" where women can share about their menstruation on the Herstory Instagram and it will act as a way to create more visibility around periods.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Management

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k
  • Donations over $10k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

I'm part of the HERlead Fellowship and they shared about it.

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Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Love this idea!
I'm so thankful that my school offers free menstrual products at school, but not everyone has the privilege that I have. Thank you for making a difference in this area!