Thursday, July 29, 2021

Young South Australian of the Year 2021

Isobel Marshall

Isobel Marshall is a truly gifted soul. At the tender age of 21, she has already led such an amazing life that it would make most of us just wonder what we have been doing with ours! Isobel is the Young South Australian of the Year 2021. Her award was for helping women around the world, by breaking down the unfortunate stigma still surrounding menstruation and providing greater access to hygiene products.

After hearing her inspirational story, it’s easy to understand why she received such an award! Over a quick coffee last week, she let me know all about her amazing adventures throughout the world with a major issue known as ‘Period Poverty’.

Isobel Marshall receiving her award from Scott Morrison
Image: Salty Dingo

Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products and the unfortunate lack of menstrual education in addition to a lack of toilets, hand washing facilities and waste management in developing countries and various regions throughout the world that are facing extreme poverty.  

Let’s face it girls, periods are hell! They hurt, you feel like crap and some of us can unfortunately turn into a dragon to those around us at that time of the month! We don’t mean to but…you know what I mean!

However, imagine if we had to deal with all of these issues on top of living in remote areas in extreme poverty?

In 2018, Isobel and her friend Eloise Hall travelled to India and Kenya to learn more about the barriers faced by women in rural communities.

Eloise Hall & Isobel Marshall in Kenya

It definitely was an eye opening experience. Says Isobel: “A huge fuel to period poverty is the stigma around periods. When an issue isn’t talked about, people can’t voice their concerns and then solutions can’t be made, so because of that “taboo” around periods, lots of solutions haven’t been made to the issues that people who menstruate have, whether it be a lack of product, lack of education, support, geographical education.”

But everything happens for a reason and on their return to Australia, Isobel and Eloise couldn’t forget the many disadvantaged women all over the world who face period poverty. So the pair decided to help make period issues a bit easier to deal with and less of a ‘taboo’ subject and Taboo was born!

Isobel and Eloise co-founded Taboo, the fabulous social enterprise that sells quality, ethically sourced pads and tampons to an Australian market with one hundred per cent of their net profits going to educational programs for women and girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Isobel: “We thought we needed to make our own brand of product called ‘Taboo’ to call it out for what it is and to create a brand that is strong and bold.”

Taboo co-founders with Aboriginal women in remote community

Just by buying our own sanitary products through Taboo, we are helping these women too, with one hundred percent of  profits going to them. Not only that but funds are also going to those in need closer to home.

Isobel: “Soon into our journey at Taboo, we discovered that ‘Period Poverty’ exists in Australia too. Lots of groups that live rurally, Aboriginal communities, can’t access products, as well as… women fleeing from domestic violence.”

Locally, Isobel and her team at Taboo work with Vinnies Women’s Crisis centre, providing free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia. In short, Isobel has found a way where WE can all help these women.

Taboo products are available from OTR, National Pharmacies and online. Offering a subscription service, supplies are automatically delivered to your door every month. (Most of us women have felt the panic when the supply of pads and tampons in the house has run out and they’re needed NOW.You know it’s the absolute worst!) That panic can now be eradicated through Taboo’s subscription service. On top of that, every purchase ensures that women around the world have access to continuous sanitary care and education.

For such a minimal monthly cost, those of us who are lucky enough and grateful enough not to have to face period poverty can help those who do.

To find out more, go to the Taboo website.

Isobel Marshall (R) & Kirstey Whicker
Isobel Marshall (R) & Kirstey Whicker

Isobel Marshall was speaking to Kirstey Whicker, author of this post.

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