Meet Gabby Edlin, Activist, Founder and CEO of Bloody Good Period and our latest 'Wow Woman'.
Bloody Good Period provides menstrual products to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them as well as providing menstrual, sexual and reproductive health education within those communities. These products are currently distributed through over 100 drop-in services and groups in London and the UK.
Gabby was named as one of the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 Top Changemakers and Stylist’s Woman of the Week. We sat down with her to find out more about her amazing work and why being open about female health is so important.
I started Bloody Good Period in 2016 when I was volunteering at the New London Synagogue asylum-seekers’ drop-in centre, and discovered that period supplies were only provided for ‘in emergencies’. A whip around for donations of pads or tampons on Facebook turned into a full-blown operation to collect and distribute toiletries and period supplies for asylum seekers all around the UK.We love how you are normalising periods, and we’re all for it. How can something that happens every 28 days (on average) to 50% of the world be ‘unnormal’?! Why do you think there is such a stigma surrounding periods and what can we do to stop this?
It’s a mix of colonial and patriarchal shame, and capitalism. Periods are just a part of life and they’ve been created into something toxic to keep women and people who menstruate at a disadvantage and to make a ton of money for those in power. The stigma is easily forgotten - Menstrual Matters creator Sally King calls it a weak taboo.We think many people would be shocked to hear that 1 in 10 girls in the UK can’t afford period products. How can we as women help to bring awareness to the importance of period poverty and what can we do to help?
Supporting BGP and helping to 'sponsor a period' is a great way to start, but also talking about it. The more that people are aware of the issues, the more will get done.
Our brilliant education programme signposts refugee and asylum seeking women to access help in the NHS as well as provides sessions about anything from heavy bleeding to menopause, run by gynaes and sexual health doctors.How has the pandemic effected women struggling with period inequality?
We have seen six times the need in the past year. We've donated over 70,000 packs since the start of the pandemic. We're hearing more from students who lost their jobs and can't afford basic products, we've donated over 700 packs of products to NHS staff who were working such long shifts they simply didn't have time to get to the shops, and schools that offered free menstrual products to their students were shut, so we found an increase in demand there too. You can find out more about period povety in the pandemic here.What do you think about the waste products of the period industry do you have any idea how we can tackle this? Is it up to the big corporate brands and those who can afford re-usable products? Or is it even an issue that can be tackled when the bigger issue is period poverty itself?
Exactly - I don’t believe it’s down to people who are already struggling to afford products. Why on earth are we taking the onus off the big brands to stop making products with so much plastic?!
Hopefully we will no longer need to exist because period supplies will be as freely available as condoms and toilet paper. People will wonder why we ever “needed to talk about periods” because there will no longer be any taboo.What are you proudest of with regards to Bloody Good Period?
My brilliant team.What were your dream jobs when you were younger? Did you ever think you would start your own charity?
I wanted to be a fashion designer. So... pretty different! When I got into the workplace in my twenties I knew I’d have to create my own organisation if I wanted to work somewhere that was actually feminist and fitted with my ethics.How do you ensure you always stay true to your core?
By telling everyone around me what I care about. They help me stay true to myself. Honestly though I don’t think I could not stay true to myself. How can you not? If you don't, what else is there?!
Very little. I hang out with my partner and my family, do a bit of yoga, read and watch loads of TV. Nothing too exciting I’m afraid but it suits me.What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?
Not being tired.What is your quote of the day every day?
'This too shall pass'.
No one is going to change the world for you. It’s going to have to be you and your friends who do the hard work.Who is your ‘Wow Woman’?
I love your Harmony Pants, I’m wearing them now. They are so soft I’m in heaven!