As a part of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting amazing women who #PressForProgress in their fields and communities. Our woman crush this week is Dana Marlowe, founder of I Support The Girls.
Here, Dana sounds off on ISTG’s mission, the organization’s plans for the year, and what being an empowered female means to her:
Tell us about I Support The Girls.
I Support the Girls (ISTG) is an international organization which facilitates the collection and distribution of new and used bras and sealed packages of tampons and maxi pads to homeless women and girls. Through its national platform and infrastructure, ISTG leverages its network of 50 U.S. affiliates and five global affiliates to raise awareness and advocate for homeless women's rights.
Women and girls who find themselves experiencing homelessness shouldn’t have to worry about finding bras, much less proper menstrual products. Yet they wear the same bra for years (causing health problems) and each month have to make a choice between paying for meals or buying a box of tampons. Every woman should have the ability to maintain her dignity! This is our mission- to restore dignity and self-respect to thousands of women.
In the last 24 months, ISTG has collected 350,000 bras and over 1.2 Million menstrual hygiene products and distributed them to homeless girls and women worldwide at over 350 homeless shelters, domestic violence organizations, refugee agencies and other recipient charities.
We also realize that periods don’t stop for hurricanes. We are here to fill an oft-overlooked gap in the donation cycle during natural disasters. Our disaster relief initiatives aim to bridge the link and donated hundreds of thousands of feminine care items ranging from body wipes, hand sanitizer, and bags to clothing, accessories, and toiletries.
How is ISTG Pressing for Progress this year?
ISTG's national reach has helped provide the organization with a platform to advocate on behalf of homeless rights, and for girls and women in particular. With over 200 press opportunities in the last two years, ISTG works to push for progress on issues such as the tampon tax, providing free menstrual products for prisoners in jail, and ensuring that public schools distribute free menstrual products so no student has to miss school because they lack access.
Unfortunately, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. homeless population is girls and women. Utilizing the knowledge gained from our affiliate network spread across the country and our work with close to 400 organizations, ISTG will continue to ensure that women who have lost everything can maintain their dignity and self-respect.
True&Co. has loved working with your team this year, What makes the I Support The Girls partnership with True&Co. special for you?
Every woman deserves to be comfortable, no matter their station in life. Every woman is unique and has a unique story. When we distribute bras, we know very well who the end users are. They are girls and women who for any number of reasons ended up on the streets or in a shelter. When we provide them with a gently used bra, we know how comfortable it feels to replace the one bra they may have been wearing for the last 8 years. When they can maintain their self-respect, they maintain their uniqueness and the feeling of being lost to the streets may, even if temporarily, dissipate.
True & Co.'s mission is to ensure that every single woman feels comfortable in their own skin and to celebrate what makes each woman unique. We share the same values — that is extremely important for our organization! When a woman's first layer can provide comfort, even in dark times, we feel like we are supporting and uplifting her regardless of her situation. Working with a company that truly believes that meshes with the work ISTG does on the ground. This makes our partnership not only special, but one which we know will be successful.
What does it mean to be an empowered female?
Female empowerment can be defined in many ways, but for ISTG, it revolves around our work. A woman with a properly fitting bra can stand up straight and feel better about herself. Having self-confidence can help her on job interviews and working to get back on her feet. Many people might say that it's just a bra. We know better — a bra can empower! To me, personally, an empowered woman is someone who is confidant, comfortable in her own skin, not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and who speaks her mind even if going against others.
What’s your favorite True&Co. piece?
True Body Scoop Neck Bra!