Crimson Wave


How might we preserve homeless women’s dignity by providing them with access to hygiene products and facilities in particular during menstruation?

Homelessness is one of the biggest social problems in New York City. More than 58,000 homeless men, women and children (in a city of 8.5 million people) sleep in homeless shelters and at least 3,100 more sleep on the streets and subways. In other words,  one in every 147 New Yorkers is currently homeless. Homeless women are more vulnerable than men (being often threatened, sexually abused) and access to hygiene is more complicated and limited. , and the worst thing about being homeless is probably being a woman. With already extremely limited resources for being hygiene, Homeless women usually experience a particularly every hard time during when going through their menstruation as access to sanitary towels or tampons is difficult as they are expensive and rarely available. Moreover, access to bathrooms to change and wash is also difficult. Limited access to sanitary towels or tampons usually lead homeless women to use, for example, used clothes or socks, which can cause many reproductive and gynecological health problems.periods.

For centuries, the topic on menstruation has always been a taboo, and women actively change their behavior to avoid overtly showing that they are on their period, even until today. Therefore, while homeless women can figure out how to find people could often get access to food and clothes, they have a very hard time finding rarely have the chance to get the equally necessary, taboo-aroused, and at the same time (yet costly) hygiene products such as tampons and pads. This limited access to hygiene produces usually lead homeless women to use, for examples, used clothes or socks to make their “tampon,” which will cause many reproductive and gynecological health problems, additionally to the increased cramps, fatigue, and headaches because of the lack of sleep.

In this project, we want to focus therefore focuses on explore ways to providing homeless women in NYC with access to hygiene products and facilities,  in order to provide them with dignity, hygiene and health. and thus reduce the possibilities for them to have gynecological problems and other health issues caused by menstruation infections.

This fall, we will be doing research to understand better the complexity of this issue (which involves sexual health, social stigma, shelters’ policy, etc.). This will involve volunteering in women shelters and interviewing organizations working with homeless women in order to scope the project and frame the challenge question to start a DFA project in Spring 2018.

If you’re interested in joining the project, feel free to contact Ashley at

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