Co-founder of We BLead Bermuda Tylasha Baia when her group ran a giveaway in partnership with Best Periodt.
HAMILTON, Bermuda--Hundreds of menstrual products were given to high school students after a huge donation to an organisation that helps shoulder the cost of feminine care.
Tylasha and Yasser Baia founded We BLead Bermuda in 2021, and hope to spread awareness of period poverty. More than 1,500 pads, tampons and wipes were contributed in January by the Sigma Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Baia thanked the group and said: “Because of their donation, we have been able to start our journey of providing menstrual products for the public high schools here in Bermuda. We promote community partnership and appreciate anyone wanting to help us combat period poverty as this is a local and global issue.”
Da’Shawn Doars, the sorority chapter’s president, said the handover was made as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 16. She explained: “Sigma Xi Omega Chapter heard about We BLead and decided what better way to support the day’s theme ‘We Are One’ than to be women in support of women. Period poverty is a reality for women and girls and highlighting the need for supporting females with what is a natural occurrence is paramount. Thanks to We BLead for all they are doing; it was an honour to be of service.”
The products were handed over later to the Berkeley Institute, from where Baia graduated as head girl in 2019, and her husband was deputy head boy, graduating a year earlier. Baia, from St. David’s, said: “We had a few tears from the teachers who think what we do is important and a wide range of teachers wanted to get involved. The girls truly appreciated it.”
In a letter about We BLead expected to be sent to businesses, Baia explained: “Since 2021, our team has been hosting community giveaways, conducting workshops and have partnered with several organisations such as Best Periodt, Bermuda General Agency [BGA – Ed.] and the Family Centre to ease the burden of buying menstrual products on women and girls around the island. Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products, which can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of women and girls. Those who lack access or struggle to afford these essential items suffer from missed or uncomfortable school or workdays. Through our community outreach this past year, we have seen first-hand the positive impact of not having to worry about the high cost menstrual products can have on the lives of the women we have served. We believe that no one should have to suffer the consequences of not being able to afford these essential products.”
Baia said the idea to launch We BLead came after she considered her own circumstances. She added: “I was thinking about others who didn’t have access to pads as easily as me – my grandmother would buy pads in bulk from overseas and have them there for us so we could go and grab whenever. I realised that is not the reality for everyone. As women, we don’t ask to bleed, it just happens each month and it shouldn’t be treated as something that we asked for. It’s important to reach those who can’t afford [menstrual products] but our message is for everyone: that all women, no matter if you can afford it or not, should not have to pay crazy prices for pads.”
Baia said she did not know the extent of period poverty in Bermuda, in part owing to a discomfort many people feel in talking about it.
“It’s a topic that’s taboo, a topic that is meant to be private, which I agree with to some extent, but not many people want to say or admit that they can’t afford these products. With We BLead we also are aiming towards providing education on periods and how to make people comfortable talking about it, specifically our young girls.”
Baia’s husband highlighted the importance of men’s involvement. He said: “Everyone’s got a sister or a mother or an aunt, so it’s important that you’re educated. I think men tend to get grossed out or not totally understand it, so sometimes it can make a woman feel shameful for something that’s quite natural, and that’s quite unfortunate.”
It is hoped students at other schools will also benefit from the efforts of We BLead, which Baia aims to make an official charity.
Government last year included feminine care products in legislation to make a number of essential goods duty-free as part of moves to address the cost of living.
Premier and Minister of Finance David Burt said last week: “We recognise that many families need our assistance to help make ends meet, and our responsibility is to deliver relief to support the people. This duty relief will remain in place as it was a permanent change.”
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