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HomeHealthThe Kwek Society seeks to end period poverty for Indigenous students

The Kwek Society seeks to end period poverty for Indigenous students

In the U.S., one in four students miss school because they don’t have access to period products and The Kwek Society made it their mission to help find a solution.

Eva Marie Carney founded The Kwek Society in 2018 to provide indigenous girls with access to period products, and the need for their help is constant.

In the U.S., one in four students miss school because they don’t have access to period products and The Kwek Society made it their mission to help find a solution.

The Kwek Society provides something they call “moon time bags” which are filled with pads and liners. Additionally, they often provide tampons, cotton underwear and educational materials to Native American students in need of menstrual supplies — all while working to shine a light on the inequities within the communities.

“When I realized girls miss daily life and activities because they don’t have period supplies, it made me angry ethically and it made me angry as a feminist — I had to do something,” Carney said. Carney shared that she saw the problem within her own community in Washington D.C. but that rural areas suffer the most with period poverty because there is less access to stores and the internet for online orders.

The Kwek Society visits with staff of Central Console School District at their warehouse in Kirtland, N.M. in front of supplies delivered. Courtesy Photo

In 2018 with her newfound knowledge, her background as an indigenous woman, her experience as a lawyer, and a lot of support along the way, The Kwek Society was founded. Since then, almost 950,000 period supplies have been distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada. Carney also shared that in 2022 thus far, about 5,000 girls have been served.

“I wanted this to be about dignity and choice and asking them what they want to use — not telling them what we are giving them,” Carney said. “It’s more of a dialogue, because it’s a personal issue and sometimes they’re given diapers or giant pads. We want them to be comfortable and we want to treat that need with dignity.”

Carney added that The Kwek Society sources a fair amount of their organic cotton pads through Be Prepared Period and also partnered with a group called Bras For Girls to help further the mission to support the journey through puberty with dignity. Carney shared that Bras for Girls provided about 1,500 bras for indigenous students since December 2021 for The Kwek Society to include in tandem with their moon time bags to help girls feel comfortable staying active and playing sports.

Each moon time bag The Kwek Society hands out is hand-sewn by one of their 25 volunteers and includes a poem about the moon to help create a grounded connection for the girls to their culture. The Kwek Society is constantly looking for schools to help, period supplies, as well as traditional teachings to include on their website.

“We think this is a great way to energize the students and feel like having a period is a good thing not a bad thing, so if there’s folks willing to share the stories passed down within their own tribes, we have a few indigenous stories from teachers shared and other women we know but we are always looking to expand that information and capture that richness,” Carney said.

On top of sharing traditional teachings, The Kwek Society benefits from Amazon Smile, social media sharing, group drives for products, individual product donations, monetary donations and volunteers to sew moon time bags. Learn more about how to help The Kwek Society here.

Carney also urges everyone to call their local legislators to help pass laws that would require public bathrooms to provide free period supplies.

“There’s soap and toilet paper and this is also a hygiene essential,” she said. “It’s infuriating that something so basic isn’t mandatory.” Carney added that some states like California have started to mandate the inclusion of period supplies but there is still a long way to go to end period poverty.

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Natasha Lovato
Natasha is a Colorado native born with a passion for the natural world. When she’s not hiking, paddle boarding or cycling you’ll find her curled up with a good book and her cats.
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