By Sean Meyer
If you see a young woman dressed in a pink dress and fairy wings passing out little jars, aka "pods", containing feminine pads and tampons inside, then chances are you just witnessed a sighting of the elusive Fairy Pod Mother.
“One part is to create awareness,” said Amanda Miknev, the self-appointed Fairy Pod Mother. “People don’t like to think about people who don’t have access to period products, because it’s not super-talked about. That’s part of it, but the other part is actually having them out there for people.”
Amanda started “pad podding” as a follow up to her original Pink Pad Project.
That effort launched at around the same time she’d been attending a lot of the Tampon Tuesday events, which also spearheads awareness around the need for greater access to pads and tampons.
During the course of her participation, she began to realize there are lots of pads and tampons coming in — not enough to support all of London, of course — but despite these efforts, it is still difficult to distribute on a city-wide level.
One avenue attempting to do that is the existing pad and tampon machines that exist in washrooms of some bars, restaurants and other public spaces.
Unfortunately, Amanda said, these machines aren’t working at all. But even if they are, their use raises an important question.
“There are pad and tampon machines out there . . . but are hard to find. They’re white metal boxes, you can’t see in them, and it’s $0.50 to get a pad or tampon of maybe good quality,” Amanda said. “If it doesn’t eat your coins; lots of places don’t restock them regularly either. For me, that would suck. But for someone who only has $4 for food for the day, losing $0.50 is devastating. So, what is your need, hiding your period or eating?”
Some of the inspiration for her pad podding effort stemmed from Amanda’s civic leadership program.
That program put her in contact with not only strong mentors like Pillar Nonprofit Network executive director Michelle Baldwin, but also gave her access to Innovation Works and the successful Libro Social Enterprise Incubator.
Innovation Works provided a supportive environment, not to mention offering her effort some “legitimacy” as a distribution point for the Pink Pad Project. For its part, the Libro Social Enterprise Incubator provides Amanda with an invaluable business mentorship.
But what ultimately might be making the project a success is how the discussion is becoming one people — all people — can understand.
“People understand there is a deficit out there,” Amanda said. “It’s clear, there isn’t the mental gymnastics necessary if you explain you only have $6 for food, so bleed or eat? All humans get that, it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl.”
Amanda is confident “attitudes are changing,” and it’s becoming more receptive to open discuss this ongoing deficiency.
“Super ideally,” Amanda said, there would be no one with problems accessing pads and tampons.
But since that’s not the reality, she said her plan is to keep pushing the issue further into the public eye.
“Hopefully awareness will lead to better machines, hopefully front facing, can take bills. We can do that for candy bars, but not something that is for people’s health?” she said. “There are things like the Kindness Meters, so something like that, that kind of guerrilla awareness could be an important step. There are things that can happen.”
For more information, visit www.instagram.com/fairy_pod_mother.
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