PERIOD poverty, as it is commonly referred to, has to do with inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products, and the phenomenon has worsened in Jamaica as the island continues to suffer economic fallout due to the pandemic. To this end, business process outsourcing outfit Sutherland Global Services has taken action to alleviate this persistent issue with a recent donation of feminine products, including sanitary napkins, maternity pads and deodorants, valued at $400,000 to the Kingston branch of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation.
“There are many women across Jamaica who have difficulty in accessing menstrual supplies because it is still a taboo subject or isn't generally prioritised with poverty being an issue in our country. The reality of it is that if a female wants to buy menstrual supplies, she needs cash. And, unfortunately, there are persons who have had to choose between 'do I eat today or do I buy menstrual supplies?', and it's obvious what the choice may sometimes be,” said Claude Duncan, country manager of Sutherland Global Services.
He added: “The average woman spends 2,535 days of her life menstruating. This means she needs to somehow obtain access to enough menstrual products to cover the average cumulative total of the seven years of her life that she will menstruate.”
The much-needed donation was the culmination of activities by the company's 'No Mess, No Stress' Committee, an initiative conceptualised by a Sutherland Global employee to counter period poverty last June under its 'Making A Difference' Programme. This was achieved by hosting drives for sanitary products and monetary contributions via elective salary deduction from staff members, 70 per cent of whom are female. Upon completion of the drive, the company then matched the value of the donations before presenting the sum to the Women's Centre as the beneficiary.
Manager of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Gay Williams, expressed gratitude for the donation, citing the need for more as financial challenges remain a concern.
“Some of the parents of the girls who we serve lost their jobs during the pandemic, so the provision of these menstrual products will provide some relief. Maternity pads are also one of the most expensive items for them right now. So this donation comes at a time when it is much needed as some of our girls here are pregnant too.”
Further to the activity, the two entities are currently in talks to ink a partnership to continue service to the female-centric organisation. In keeping with Sutherland Global's mission of especially employing the underprivileged and persons from minority groups, the deal would recruit women and young mothers who graduate from the centre's Programme of Adolescent Mothers, which sees an average of 1,250 adolescent mothers registering annually through hospitals, health centres, schools and communities.