One in four girls left or missed school because they didn’t have period products—this year, in America. Some Native communities experience even higher rates of period poverty. We’re proud to support the work of The Kwek Society, a nonprofit that addresses period poverty in Native communities.
The Kwek Society (kwe’k means “women” in Potawatomi) now partners with nearly 80 schools and community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada with significant indigenous populations, sending menstrual supplies and puberty education materials so that no one has to miss school or work, or risk their health or dignity due to insufficient supplies, while on their moon times. The organization also educates about moon time as a time for celebration and dignity, and works to shed light on menstrual and other inequities in Native communities.
“Receiving Roundhouse Foundation’s support earlier this year has allowed us to continue to expand our partnerships with schools and organizations,” said Kwek Society founder Eva Marie Carney, a dual citizen of the United States and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is one of eight Potawatomi kwe’k women of the ten women serving on The Kwek Society’s board of directors.
“We also were able to restock the 70 students we support at Oregon school Chemawa Indian School, sending over 4,000 period supplies, thanks to Roundhouse Foundation funding,” said Carney. “Our partnership with Chemawa started in early 2020. We are delighted that the school recently put our supplies in bowls on the counter in the recreation center bathroom and restocks the supplies as needed.” One of the staff at the school in Salem wrote to the Society: ‘That way girls do not have to ask the person on duty if they have any supplies … and they have their immediate needs met.’ ”
At the end of February, the Society added a new school partner, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School in Sitka, Alaska. They shipped pads, liners, cotton underwear and their moon time bags (cotton bags sewn by elders and filled with period pads and liners), as well as puberty education books, to supply 30 students. The photos above show students with some of those books and period products. The school’s counselor, Jeanine Brooks, wrote: “The girls were really excited to see the books and supplies. Knowing that I’ll be entering our school’s puberty unit with such excellent information and supplies is so empowering. I can’t wait to share the Kwek message with all of our students.”
The support from Roundhouse also allowed the nonprofit to commit to getting needed period supplies to 75 students at Pyramid Lake Junior and Senior High Schools in Nixon, Nevada, in early March. Virtually all of the Pyramid Lake students are indigenous, and include members of the Native Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and the Walker River Paiute Tribe.
“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to look back, while redoubling our commitments to keep moving forward,” said Carney. “We look back to understand the hard work women before us did to ensure that women are seen and respected, and we commit ourselves to keep at the work to achieve gender equality and a better world. Menstrual equity–making sure that everyone who gets a period has access to menstrual products–is one aspect of gender equality.”
Visit the Kwek Society’s website to learn more, and for step-by-step instructions for making their signature “moon time bags,” colorful cotton bags, which are then filled with menstrual products and sent to those whom The Kwek Society serves. Follow The Kwek Society on Instagram at @thekweksociety.