Dignity Matters is a non-profit organization that collects, purchases and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras and underwear to women and girls in Massachusetts who are homeless or disadvantaged. We believe that access to these necessities is a fundamental human right, and that all women deserve to live their lives with health, confidence and dignity. In 2019, we provided more than 3,000 women with period protection and underwear EVERY MONTH.
People commonly associate period poverty with developing countries, but it is a significant (and often invisible) issue here in Massachusetts and across America. There are women and girls in almost every community in this country who cannot afford menstrual hygiene products, and often must choose between buying food for their families and buying menstrual supplies each month.
The most common reasons that women and girls lack access to period protection are:
1) SNAP benefits (federal food stamps) do not cover the cost of menstrual hygiene products
2) Menstrual hygiene products are expensive and needed monthly
3) Menstrual hygiene products and underwear are rarely donated to shelters, food pantries or public schools, and these organizations struggle to afford these items for their clients and students.
We serve single mothers, homeless women, women and families living below the poverty line, immigrants, refugees, transgender and LGBTQ people, and women and teens who have escaped domestic violence and cannot safely return home. We supply women with period protection, bras and underwear through a network of more than 100 community partners, including food pantries, public schools and after school programs, homeless shelters and medical clinics. These include Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, Boston Public Schools, South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Catie's Closet and the Women's Lunch Place. Periodically, we also organize personalized bra fittings where volunteers assist women as they try on and choose well-fitting bras.
Unlike many programs that serve disadvantaged populations, Dignity Matters does not conduct street outreach or opportunitstic, ad-hoc distribution. Dignity Matters donates pre-agreed quantities of product at scheduled intervals to every partner organization, based on the exact needs of their clients. We vet our partners, track our impact and, most importantly, we get to know the exact needs of the people we serve. Two years ago Dignity Matters contracted with a manufacturer and supplier of menstrual products, which enables us to purchase and distribute period protection to local partners for a fraction of retail cost. This allows us to serve the greatest number of women and girls in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
In 2019, Dignity Matters collected and distributed more than 500,000 items to women and girls in need. As the rate of homelessness and poverty in Massachusetts grows (as it has every year for the past 5 years), so does the need for our services. We add new distribution partners and increase the number of women we serve every month, but we simply cannot meet the growing demand with the resources we have.
Thank you for supporting Dignity Matters and the women and girls we serve throughout Massachusettes!