We are really excited to start our interview sessions with Katrina, founder of Homeless Period Belfast. We met her and admired her before The Feminist Shop existed, and it was a no brainer to chose her nonprofit for our crowdfunding campaign, in which we donated 10% of everything we raised to Homeless Period Belfast. It's always a pleasure listening to her speak and now getting the chance to read about her too!
What is Homeless Period Belfast?
"We are a community led initiative that strives to alleviate period poverty among disadvantaged women, girls, and people who menstruate throughout Belfast and beyond. We also aim to reshape the conversation on periods and campaign for the provision of free period products in all toilets."
What is the biggest impact of your organisation?
"Our greatest impact is that we help people who cannot afford or access the essential items that get them through their period. We have started a movement that stands up to period poverty and period stigma."
How did you started and where are you going, what is the big vision?
"We started in November 2016 and having been active for nearly three years. We have already witnessed a lot of progress in terms of the provision of free period products in many private and public establishments and this is exactly the aim of our cause. That is why our vision is not to grow; it is to become obsolete - to cease to exist. We firmly believe that period poverty is an issue that can be eradicated by providing all necessary items for free. Once this is the norm, we will no longer be needed."
How is feminism related with your career and what you do?
"We are fundamentally a feminist organisation. We are fighting an issue that impacts women and we are a project run by women, primarily for women. We recognise that not all people who have a period identify as women, but we recognise that the issue disproportionately affects women and girls. The lack of free period product provision and the lack of education and awareness on periods, as well as the stigma, embarrassment and shame that is attached to menstruation, makes this issue a gender issue. Women’s health is being side-lined; period poverty is deep rooted in the gender imbalance and we strive to use our feminist ethos to eradicate the inequity."
And now our "one fit all" Feminist questionnaire with Katrina:
What is Feminism for you?
"Feminism for me is about recognising that we live in a patriarchal society riddled in inequality and toxic masculinity. It is understanding that women are disproportionately impacted by the gender imbalance and that both men and women need to work together for a more equal society."
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
"The ‘everyday sexism’ that really bothers me is male entitlement; that I should be grateful for unsolicited comments on my appearance and when I reject a comment or show that I am uncomfortable or ungrateful, I am accused of being rude."
Do you remember when you started identifying as a Feminist and why?
"I started identifying as a feminist with conviction when I was around 20, I am now 26. From a young age I have always intrinsically been a feminist but I didn’t know how to vocalise it. I have always held feminist views but I suppose I feared exposing myself as a feminist because of how the word ‘feminist’ has been hijacked. Back then, and still now, the word can have negative connotations. Many ignorant people see you as a ‘feminazi’ or ‘radical’ or someone who just wants to make a lot of fuss. It is a real shame that people fear the word and feel that they cannot confidently use it out of fear of being criticised. Today, I own my feminist label because there is absolutely nothing wrong with advocating for gender equality."
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
"I would say Angela Davis – I read her book on ‘Women, Race and Class’ where I was introduced to Intersectional Feminism in more depth and after reading, I become more aware of my white privilege and the need to advocate for feminism that is intersectional."
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own" - Audre Lorde
What is your proud feminist victory?
"I would say my proud feminist victory is being successful in my #MenstruationMatters campaign for the provision of free period products in toilets of both the public and private sector. Already we have seen massive progress with the campaign, with many local councils getting on board, as well as private establishments such as cafes, bars and local companies/work places."
What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo / Everything I know about Love by Dolly Alderto/ Women, Class, Race by Angela Davis
- TV show: Killing Eve and Sex Education
- Film: Suffragette, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, The craft, Erin Brockovich & Mulan
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
"Reclaim the word feminist and do not be ashamed to use it or shout about equality. Now is not the time to be silent on injustices that we can use our voices to stand up against. Call out blatant sexism, misogyny, and gender inequality - do not be silenced."