What would you take with you if had to leave at a moment’s notice? Other than the clothes on my back and possibly some photos of my family, there would be nothing else that I would carry with me. For those fleeing dangerous situations, as in the case of Syrian refugees, so much emphasis is placed on the welfare of men and children, but what about the needs of women, especially when it involves their hygiene?
In Essex, England, three women are making a difference in the lives of Syrian women with regard to this issue. Helen McDonald, Megan Saliu and Helen Pudney founded SOS Calais, or Supporting Our Sisters in Calais. Together they organized drives to collect sanitary pads and had them delivered to the one of the biggest refugee camps in Calais, France where women make up 10% of the population. Donating food, water and personal products are just as necessary, but for women, menstrual products are crucial.
For most women, menstrual products are easily accessible, but for women who have been displaced due to crisis situations, access is virtually impossible.
In addition to access, there is the question of safety for these women. The women McDonald, Saliu and Pudney encountered in Calais were in their twenties and outnumbered by men in the same camp. These women are forced to look out for themselves to avoid harassment due to minimal or no security or support for them otherwise. Providing these women with products specifically for them gives them a sense of inclusion and empowerment.
For someone like me who has experienced moments of embarrassment or horror for not having sanitary pads when I’ve needed them, it’s quite disconcerting to know that these women are forced to find alternative means to take care of their needs, especially with menstrual products. It is an unfortunate byproduct of being torn from one’s home or country as a result of war or oppression and it is unrealistic to think that women and children are less affected than men.
Women in these environments become targets as a way to weaken their resolve in achieving independence and have to rely on others for help or do without. With the crowdfunding page created by McDonald, Saliu and Pudney, they intend to raise awareness of how crucial it is to provide these women with their needs. It is up to us, and the rest of the world, to step up and ensure that everyone, especially women in crisis environments, get their needs met. It’s the least we can do for them and future generations.
What other basic needs would you have if you had to flee on short notice?
This is an original guest post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Blog.
Tes Silverman was born in the Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for more than 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Brussels, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Four years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. Currently residing in Huntington, NY with her husband, sixteen year-old daughter and nine year-old Morkie, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.