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Supporting women and queer people everywhere

Words by Tess Becker

About half the world deals with menstruation and periods, and yet there are a lot of barriers to getting the items that people need like tampons, pads, and the like.

Barriers such as exorbitant costs and taxes can prevent many people from accessing the products they need, especially when they’re struggling financially or are even homeless. 

This is something that Dana Marlowe wanted to address when she founded I Support the Girls

According to Dana, I Support the Girls was founded by accident. After she had kids, her body changed and grew, but with the support of a few friends she lost about 35 pounds. Suddenly her bras no longer fitted her. So she contacted a homeless shelter to ask if she should donate them. The shelter gave a resounding yes and said that women's care products were always in high demand. 

Hearing about this desperate need, Dana promptly organized a community drive to collect more products for donation. In that first drive she brought in over 1000 bras and 7100 menstrual products. That marked the beginning of women's support organization I Support the Girls. 

“You do something, you give back in some capacity and you think 'I'm good, right? I can wipe my hands of this - that was a nice thing to do', but such is not the case because here I am eight years later, and I have really expanded the conversation,” Dana tells Smiley News.

In the years that followed the first drive, the organization has grown into a multinational organization with hubs across the United States, Germany and Pakistan, all part of a larger affiliate network. 

“We have around 50 locations globally of people collecting and donating locally, empowering those in need in their communities,” she says. “That's our big program but we have several other programs: our Disaster Relief Program, our Pakistani Training Center, our Forces For Change program which is very specific to various populations that we support around the globe.”

A lot of this work centers around the kits that they offer, including a recently developed package to help trans people, particularly trans femmes. The kit is called the SLASH kit after the slash between pronouns, like she/her. They include gender-affirming products such as binders, underwear, menstrual products, toiletries and more.

Since the founding of ISTG across their affiliate network, they’ve donated over 22.5 million products for causes across the spectrum, particularly around women and queer people.

By setting up I Support the Girls, Dana just wanted to make a small difference. It isn’t even her full-time gig, as she works in IT, but she wants to help where she can. 

“I think in general people who menstruate are often overlooked,” Dana says. I Support the Girls makes sure they're seen.

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Women Invested to Save Earth Fund. This organization helps support underrepresented and underfunded Black, indigenous, and women of color-led organizations across the world. Find out more and support them here

Collective Sun. They help nonprofits get outfitted with solar power capabilities. Check them out here.

Florida Bicycle Association. An organization that helps mobilize people and promote greener living and safer biking. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Gender Equality.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs