Free menstrual products are now available in all Shidler College of Business restrooms thanks to a new partnership between Delta Sigma Pi: Ro Chi at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Shidler college and local non-profit organization Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi.
Delta Sigma Pi is an international professional business fraternity with four main pillars: professionalism, service, scholarship and brotherhood. The group’s vice president of community service, Susan Iverson, said this project aligned specifically with its goals of community service and service learning.
“My goal was to collaborate with not only national non-profit organizations but also emphasize local non-profits with initiatives that focus on Native Hawaiian issues—whether it be land, culture or people,” said Iverson, a senior majoring in human resource management and accounting. “Another focus point of this pillar within our chapter is service learning. We have often found many people volunteer just for the credit and walk away with no sense of purpose. Therefore, by educating members on the organization, they are volunteering for and how they are making a difference has increased participation and motivation among members.”
All of the menstrual products were donated by Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi, which “believes it is our kuleana, or responsibility, that all individuals of menstruation age have the right to access sanitary products, safe and hygienic places to use them, and the right to manage their bodies without shame or stigma.”
According to data provided by Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi on period poverty in Hawaiʻi, 42% of recipients identify as Native Hawaiian and 16% identify as other Pacific Islander; half of the respondents have missed school or work because of their period; and 65% of recipients are on government assistance—programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children that do not make toilet paper and menstrual products accessible.
Iverson said the initiative started at the beginning of October and the reception has been extremely positive. She is in charge of restocking the products and said they need to be refilled every week. Iverson said she has received many positive comments on social media as well.
Gov. David Ige signed Senate Bill 2821 into law earlier this year that is requiring the Department of Education to provide free menstrual products at all public and charter schools. Iverson is collecting data and feedback on the Shidler initiative with the hopes of prompting legislators to extend the law to higher education institutions.
“I’m fortunate to have that connection with not just Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi but people who also support it on campus as we try to make an impact on campus and in Hawaiʻi,” Iverson said.