The Flow Initiative: Hoboken Girl Hosts Local Period Product Drive Oct 10-30th

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Period Poverty is defined by the American Medical Women’s Association as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and educations, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management. This lack of basic hygiene products like pads, tampons, or wipes is something that many assume happens exclusively in developing countries, but its presence is felt daily by millions right here in the United States.

hoboken girl feminine product drive october 2020 flow initiative

In fact, here in Hudson County, approximately 30% of local students in high school — Jersey City specifically — have reported missing school because of a lack of access to supplies during their periods {study done by The Flow Initiative} with about 20% experiencing the same nationwide

To both raise awareness for and combat period poverty, we are collaborating on an initiative to help women get access to the period products they need locally. Read on for more about The Flow Initiative with an interview with Founder + Executive Director, Eiko La Boria, and where you can donate directly to help locals in Hudson County and combat this problem in our area during our drive. 

Creating The Flow Initiative Foundation 

The Flow Initiative Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect all girls, women, and menstruators from a lack of access to period products while erasing the stigma, shame, and humiliation associated with period poverty. This organization came about as a result of Eiko learning how girls in other countries are educated on menstruation. “I was researching the lives of Congolese Boys when I came across a line that was like, ‘Boys know that girls are ready to have sex when they see blood running down their leg,’ and that sentence led me to research about the lives of Congolese girls and this was the first time I read the term, ‘period poverty,’” she said.

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As shocking as this statement was, Eiko was in disbelief when she found that women and girls right in her own backyard were facing the same consequences. “I thought, ‘Does this happen in the U.S.? This can’t happen in the U.S.,’ but when I did the research, it most definitely happens in the U.S.,” she explained.“I knew that this was an issue that I wanted to tackle because I’ve always thought that the female reproductive system is mainly ignored and/or regulated and hardly ever respected; this led to the formation of The Flow Initiative.” 

Feelings of Period Poverty

Across the United States, period poverty affects millions. According to the Center for American Progress, approximately 12 million American girls and women, ages 12-52, live below the poverty line. Shame, stigma, humiliation, and embarrassment — these are all words that Eiko uses to describe the feelings of period poverty. She mentions that the main reason period poverty exists is because of a lack of conversation surrounding the topic of menstruation. “It is not a topic girls and women readily talk about,” she shared. “In school, students avoid talking about the need for period products because they are more concerned about making boys uncomfortable than they are of the needs of their own bodies.” 

Eiko states that having these conversations incorporated into the classroom is important. “There is no real discussion even during sex education about menstruation. They talk about if you have sex you can get an STD or become pregnant, but hardly is menstruation included in these curriculums,” she told Hoboken Girl.“It would be easy to say that because there are more male elected officials throughout our city, state, nation that that’s why period poverty exists and while that is partly true, the hard facts are that girls and women don’t discuss it either and that has to change, first.” 

In Our Communities 

Eiko mentions that there are full communities where period poverty runs rampant. LGBTQ+ youth—particularly trans men—are often left out of conversations surrounding menstruation completely. Additionally, immigrant families, incarcerated youth and women, and girls experiencing homelessness are top of the list when it comes to this struggle. While vastly under-discussed, period poverty can be seen in large numbers here in Hudson County. “Recently, we distributed period products on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City where we asked one simple question to all the girls and women who took a package, ‘Have you ever missed school, work, or not been able to leave the house to run errands because you could not afford or had no access to period products,’” Eiko shared. “One hundred percent of them said ‘Yes.’” 

COVID-19’s Impact on Period Poverty

The COVID-19 Pandemic has made this health disparity even more prevalent with millions out of work. Eiko references a Forbes article that was released in August with jarring statistics on the affordability of product hygiene products during this time. The article states that 33% of people across the country are having trouble purchasing supplies. This is up from the typical 20% rate we see in the U.S. 

Why Hudson County? 

Eiko breaks down some of the contributing factors to why the numbers in Hudson County are always at a higher rate than the national average. According to the Hudson County Municipality Sites, 68% of elected officials in Hudson County are male, while females ages 25-34 are the largest demographic living in poverty and they are followed by females ages 35-44. It is noted that the poverty rate in Hudson County is 17.1, while the national average is 13.1. In numerous shelters and food banks throughout Hudson County, the least donated items are period products, although at a minimum 50% of the people seeking assistance at shelters and food banks are women. 

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“We have to analyze why this is the case and what are elected officials, especially women, doing to put an end to such egregious numbers,” Eiko said. She clarifies that this struggle is not only on the shoulders of officials but on all residents of Hudson County to register to vote and hold elected officials accountable while also chipping in to ensure that all women have the same access. 

“Women should be outraged at these numbers, because nothing happens in Hudson County without the support of women and yet there is so little that women, as an often marginalized and underrepresented group receive in return,” she explained. “For so long, women in Hudson County have been on the back of the bus and it’s time that we expect more, demand more and tolerate less.” 

United State of Women

Eiko is also making strides as a New Jersey Ambassador for the United State of Women—a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to convening, connecting, and amplifying voices in the fight for full gender equity. After learning that many notable names like Valerie Jarrett {former senior political advisor to President Obama}, Tina Tichan {former Chief of Staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama and CEO of Time’s Up}, and Jordan Brooks {former Aide to Presidential Candidate Joe Biden}, Eiko was slightly nervous to apply, but thought, “Why not me?” 

Since being accepted as a member, she has been able to incite change. “There are many fronts that girls, women, and people are still fighting when it comes to equality and recognition. Having the ability to be a part of this fight at this moment in time is empowering, it makes me feel like I am a member of the Dora Milaje. There is no place that I will rather be,” she told us.

On the National Level + Locally

Throughout the country, change is starting to be seen. Organizations like The Flow Initiative Foundation are the catalyst for conversations at local, state, and national levels. Starting in the fall of 2022, New Jersey schools will implement new sex education standards to include topics of consent, sexual assault, and gender identity. Eiko notes that this is a step in the right direction and it’s up to Hudson County residents to continue to push school boards to include menstruation as an individual lesson rather than just as a small part of lessons on female reproduction. She also mentions that the public should know there is a Menstruation Equity for All Bill currently in The House and Senate which, if passed, would be a solid first step in addressing both period poverty and menstruation equity. 

Get Involved with Our Local Drive

Hoboken Girl is doing its part in making strides toward ending period poverty by supporting The Flow Initiative Foundation’s efforts to provide menstruating bodies with period supplies, but we need your help. Starting October 10th through October 30th, drop-off locations around Hoboken and Jersey City will be accepting donations of new boxes of pads, tampons, and hygiene products. All locations are listed below along with hours of operation. 

All items will be donated to The Flow Initiative and packages with a month’s supply of products will be donated to those in need in the area. 

Please consider a donation to support this ongoing mission to eliminate period poverty — and if you do, tag us on social media @thehobokengirl so we can reshare and let everyone know you’re doing your part.

Items Needed {must be new boxes/packaging}

  • Pads {All Sizes}
  • Tampons {All Sizes} 
  • Panty Liners 
  • Individually Wrapped Feminine Wipes 
  • Personal Heating/Menstruation Pain Relief Pads or Patches 

Donation Locations 

Hoboken Fire Department {1313 Washington St & 801 Clinton Street}

  • All hours–please ring bell to drop off 

JaneDO Hoboken {720 Monroe Street} 

  • Saturdays 9:00AM-11:00AM

Little City Books Hoboken {100 Bloomfield Street}

  • Monday-Thursday 9:00AM-4:00PM
  • Friday-Sunday 9:00AM-6:00PM

Brooke + Bel Hoboken {60 4th Street}

  • Tuesday-Saturday 11:00AM-6:00PM
  • Sunday 12:00PM-4:00PM

Two01 Hoboken {728 Grand Street}

  • Tuesday-Friday 11:00AM-10:00PM
  • Saturday 10:00AM-5:00PM
  • Closed Monday + Tuesday 

Mint Market Hoboken {303 1st Street}

  • Monday-Friday 12:00PM-6:00PM
  • Saturday-Sunday 11:00AM-5:00PM

Mint Market Jersey City {339 Grove Street}

  • Monday 12:00PM-6:00PM
  • Tuesday-Friday 12:00PM-8:00PM
  • Saturday 11:00AM-8:00PM
  • Sunday 11:00AM-6:00PM

 Word Bookstore Jersey City {123 Newark Avenue}

  • Sunday-Saturday 11:00AM-5:00PM 

Bring the new feminine hygiene supplies to these locations during business hours and let’s end period poverty together. 

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Jordan and Joelle are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their "rite of passage" move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found walking their yorkie-poo Chica, working out at the best hot yoga studios, or trying out the best restaurants in town. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town!