WičhičhaǧAStrong – Empowering and Helping Native Young Women

WičhičhaǧAStrong – Empowering and Helping Native Young Women

Running Strong is working to address what is known as “period poverty,” a widespread issue that affects roughly 500 million worldwide.  In the U.S. alone, nearly 17 million women live in poverty – and last year, about 5.6 million could not afford menstrual products, including many Native American women.

Running Strong, dedicated to empowering Native American communities, is addressing period poverty through our program, WičhičhaǧAStrong, which is Lakota for “they all grow, they thrive, they prosper, they are the generation.” The program aims to provide free menstrual hygiene products and education to Native American women and girls, focusing on serving those living in remote and underserved communities.

“Period poverty” is a pervasive problem throughout Indian Country. Our goal is to ensure all people who have periods have what for many can seem so readily available – hygiene products. 

After a very successful first year of distributing feminine hygiene kits, we will distribute 3,000 kits in our first distribution this year across 18-20 tribal communities this spring and summer and anticipate providing another 3,000 in the months following.

So far this year, we have received requests from seven of our partners in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah for the kits. Last year, the kits included items such as Tampax Super Tampons, Playtex Sport Super Tampons, Kotex Super Tampons, ultra-thin pads, maxi pads, and other hygiene items, including antiseptic and flushable wipes.

Among them is Biiluuke Strong, a nonprofit organization serving children and families on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. It focuses on traditional mentoring programs based on the clanship system, food sovereignty, and social services. Biiluuke Strong has requested 200 kits.

“We are battling the stigma behind period poverty among the female youth on the Crow Reservation,” says Biiluuke Strong executive director Ember Singer. “The feminine hygiene products will be given to young girls and women who need them but would otherwise not be able to afford them.

“Menstruation for a teen is embarrassing enough, but not having much-needed feminine products makes that feeling worse. That is where the kits come in to relieve some of that embarrassment, help reinforce the feeling of independence, and restore female confidence in their ability to care for themselves.”

In Little Canada, Minnesota, the Division of Indian Work, with the mission of “Empowering Urban American Indians,” has requested 200 kits.

“Feminine hygiene is actually one of our most requested items, besides fresh fruits and veggies,” says emergency services manager Theresa Halvorson-Lee. “They are expensive, and women are constantly in need, and not to mention families with more than one female in the household. This can cause financial hardship at times.

“Most of our families live paycheck to paycheck, and anytime we can provide something extra is always appreciated.”

Each kit costs $22 and can provide a young woman with comfort and peace of mind for a month. Our goal is 6,000 kits. Together with our donors, we can help address issues of women’s health and wellness on native reservations. 

Help American Indian Youth by Donating Today!