When I look back on my time on Neighbours, I’m filled with nothing but happiness and love. It wasn’t so much the work that made that 3 years so special, it was more the people I spent it with.
I was so lucky to forge friendships with like-minded, creative and passionate people, most of them women.
The years have passed and life has taken us all on our own little journeys but when we catch up, those feelings of love, support and the sense of family is still there. So when I saw Saskia Hampele had a project in the works I just had to stick my nose in. Sass has a rich history of giving back to many organisations and has now launched her own concept of donating sanitary items to under privileged women.
I had a chat with Saskia to find out more…
SDT: This is such a fantastic initiative! When and where did you get the idea to start Gift Box?
Saskia : Last year, my sister-in-law was collecting tampons and pads for a donation drive called ‘Share the Dignity’. I hadn’t even thought about the barriers to accessing sanitary care if you are homeless or experiencing poverty in Australia. It made me incredibly sad to think that there are women who need to steal or go without proper feminine hygiene during their periods. It just shouldn’t happen. Rather than relying on donation drives that double the profits of big businesses, it seemed strange that there wasn’t a socially conscious brand that reinvested its profits into making sure no woman had to go without, so I created one.
SDT: You’ve done a lot of other work for charities, what makes this particular issue so important to you?
Saskia: I’ve always been incredibly passionate about women’s issues and young people. This lead me into social work, and more recently ambassador roles & charity work with a number of female and youth driven organisations. With the rise in conscious consumerism over the past few years, I think the way in which we support and donate to charity is changing. It’s no longer enough to ask for people’s donations towards a cause – the focus is now about incorporating these donations into the way we spend our money. In Australia we’ve seen huge success with social enterprises like Who Gives a Crap, Thank you Water, and Y-Gap. I wanted to create something sustainable that would change the feminine hygiene industry for the better. Raking in big profits and taxes from a female necessity is shocking. As women we have the power to turn that around.
SDT: Not many people think about, or even realise just how dire the situation is for these women, why do you think that is?
Saskia: Periods, and feminine hygiene, have always been taboo topics. This is especially the case in other countries, due to spiritual and religious beliefs. As a woman, I’ve always felt a sense of shame and needing to hide the fact that I have my period. I think this social stigma stops people from engaging in meaningful conversation about it. Just the sheer lack of research on the topic is a good indicator that issues of feminine hygiene are being neglected. However, I think this is changing, and hopefully this campaign will start to raise awareness around the hardships that many women face at that time of the month.
SDT: There's currently a GST on pads and tampons in Australia as they're considered a 'luxury item'. There is noise to abolish this, what's the best way to show or support?
Saskia: You can sign the petition at www.bloodyannoying.com or write to your governement representative asking for the tax to be abolished.
This is a $30 million a year tax on women and is another demonstration of the lack of equality in our government policy; men's razors, viagra and condoms are GST free!
SDT: So how does this tax affect at risk women?
Saskia: An extra 10% cost on an already expensive product can also create a more significant barrier for women experiencing poverty. This could mean foregoing tampons to provide food for their children or having no choice but to resort to stealing sanitary items. This can then lead to jail time or hefty fines.
SDT: Gift Box Organic donating one box of tampons for every box purchased. How does this work financially?
Saskia: Gift Box will be absorbing the cost of donations, which means that consumers are not paying more than competing brands. It was important to me that the quality and price of the product matches the other brands on offer, so I’ve sourced the highest quality 100% organic cotton tampons from Europe. Instead of fancy packaging and advertising, we are keeping our packaging nice and simple and relying on word-of-mouth and socially conscious consumers to get the brand off the ground.
SDT: Finally, where can we purchase Gift Box Tampons?
Saskia: Gift Box tampons can be purchased online at www.gift boxorganic.com
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