When the U.K. went into lockdown at the end of March 2020, the female founders of British organic period product brand ohne set themselves a mission: to deliver free organic period products to the healthcare workers who needed them.
After hearing the news that female NHS workers were struggling to access period products after finishing 48-hour shifts and finding the supermarket shelves empty, they set out to deliver their own products to as many NHS wards around the U.K. as they could.
The fact that women’s needs have been falling through the cracks during this pandemic has become increasingly apparent. In a policy brief published on April 9 2020, the UN highlighted the various ways in which COVID-19 looked set to impact women’s welfare. The findings were worrying. Women’s health is being adversely impacted through the relocation of essential resources away from reproductive and sexual health. With the closure of schools, the amount of unpaid care work being undertaken by women has greatly increased. Domestic abuse is on the rise. Thanks to the large number of women working in severely affected industries—and, as we generally earn less than men—women look set to be harder hit financially by the pandemic. To top it all off, with women making up 70% of the world’s healthcare force, more women than men are risking infection on the frontline.
The World Economic Forum pointed out in a recent article that, despite the world’s healthcare force being primarily female, just 25% of senior leadership roles are held by women. The lack of female voices across leadership teams fighting this virus is worrying. Reporting that the U.K.’s task force is made up of solely men and the U.S. task force, along with many others, is primarily male, the WEF pointed out that “Without women in these positions, women’s issues could fail to be addressed throughout the crisis.”
It is therefore of paramount importance that we continue to highlight and encourage female leaders such as Nikki Michelsen and Leah Remfry-Peploe—founders of ohne— who are using their platforms to launch philanthropic initiatives that bring attention to the needs of women during this time.
Since the launch of the campaign in late March, ohne has teamed up with several other startups including Astrid & Miyu, Boucleme, Kimai, Nudea, Pollen, Smith and Sinclair and Techstars—the majority of which are female-founded, to expand the reach of its donation campaign and increase its impact. At the moment, it has the capacity to send out 25,000 free products to NHS workers. In a new GoFundMe bid, the initiative has pledged to increase this capacity to 50,000 products sent out across 500 NHS wards through the help of generous donations.
Speaking about the campaign, ohne’s founders said their aim was to give female healthcare workers “one less thing to worry about.” Leah said:
“We feel it’s now more essential than ever to look out for each other – especially the staff on NHS wards who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Now, thanks to the help of some of our favourite brands and businesses, we can get more free, organic period products sent out more quickly, to more people.”
What the current global crisis is proving is that the need for female voices in leadership is more important than ever before – not only to provide better equality and gender balance at the highest levels of decision making but to provide advocacy for the needs of people severely underrepresented.
If you work on an NHS ward (no matter what your position or role), and know that you and/or your team are struggling to access period products, simply contact the ohne team via social media or email (babes@) and we’ll do our best to ensure that product is sent to your ward.