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TABOO is an Adelaide-based social enterprise that sells organic cotton pads and tampons. TABOO’s outreach spans both domestically and globally with 100% of net profits going towards their mission to ensure women all over the globe have access to safe menstrual hygiene products, and the appropriate education to deal with their menstrual health (TABOO, 2019b).
On a global scale, TABOO has partnered with One Girl, a Melbourne-based charity that conducts work in Sierra Leone and Uganda. In Australia, TABOO facilitates the donation of sanitary products to disadvantaged women through the NPY Women’s Council and Vinnies Crisis Shelters. Overall, TABOO is aiming to end the stigma surrounding menstruation through education.
In 2016, TABOO’s co-founders Isobel Marshall and Eloise Hall were inspired by the social enterprise model at a leadership conference in Canberra they attended as high school students. From this, they “loved the idea of having a business that functions with and has a purpose for the profit.” Eloise believed that, “if we can invest in goods that people buy in their day-to-day lives, we can use the profits that come from that to empower projects.” Upon learning about the difficulty faced by women in both Australia and developing countries who cannot afford sanitary products, TABOO was founded.
Across the world, many women and girls have poor access to feminine hygiene products and adequate sanitation facilities, making it extremely difficult to manage their periods, leading to poor menstrual hygiene (UNICEF, 2018). Lack of access to sanitary products coupled with the stigma surrounding menstruation causes girls to miss school during their periods (UNICEF, 2018). This issue of ‘period poverty’ is embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of: good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality and clean water and sanitation. When addressing it, there must be a twofold focus. This two-fold approach is integrated into the business practice of TABOO both in Australia and overseas, in which they provide access to sanitary products alongside promoting awareness on periods through education, hoping to end the stigma against menstruation.
“We are very focused on breaking down the stigma of periods... there is so much power in that, we recognise that once people are educated about menstruation as a biologically normal and natural process, the stigma around it will significantly decrease.” – Eloise Hall, TABOO Managing Director and Co-founder
TABOO’s online subscription-based model, is a unique innovation that benefits both the consumer and women in need. Consumers are able to get products delivered at a frequency of their choice and select how many packs of tampons or pads they require. This offers a point of difference, particularly for those who are time poor such as busy mothers, who no longer have to worry about adding sanitary products to their shopping list.
The subscription-based model also directly supports TABOO’s Australian outreach. Consumers can choose to subscribe to products on behalf of a woman who lives in a community in Australia. These are rural Indigenous communities reached through the NPY Women’s Council who partner with TABOO. TABOO also partners with Vinnies Crisis Shelters which houses women who are often fleeing from domestically violent situations. Consumers can subscribe to have TABOO products stocked at Vinnies Crisis Shelters so women have access to products for free, alleviating their financial strain. Safe access to these products is very important as women in shelters are potentially endangered when leaving shelters. The subscription-based model allows consumers to directly support women in need as they are subscribing on behalf of them.
TABOO’s international outreach was further inspired by a research trip. In 2018, Isobel and Eloise shadowed pre-existing menstrual health care projects in Kenya and India and helped deliver pads and underwear to girls in rural schools in those areas. TABOO was also involved in the education process of teaching the girls how to use the products, “as well as educating the girls, we were educating ourselves on how we can best support women in situations like this”.
TABOO chose to partner with One Girl to deliver their international outreach projects. One Girl supports girls and young women with business skills, affordable sanitary products, education in menstrual hygiene, water and sanitation and high-school scholarships. All of One Girl’s programs are sustainable and support the local economy to holistically address the barriers that girls face to education (TABOO, 2019a).
Furthermore, TABOO is environmentally conscious in all aspects of production with a focus on the quality of the product for both the customer and the planet, as Eloise states, “you have to start where you want to finish in your processes.” The products are manufactured in a factory situated in Barcelona that runs off hydroelectricity. When dispatching the products to customers, TABOO utilises the same box provided by the manufacturer. They also only use recycled plastic tape when packaging its products - making its delivery process entirely sustainable. This contributes directly to SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production.
Upon reflecting on TABOO’s long-term goals, Eloise noted that: “empowering women directly supports the SDGs – not only does it empower women in the workforce, it empowers local economies ... we are really excited to see women empowered through the projects that we’re funding.”
Eloise Hall, Co-founder and Managing Director
TABOO Sanitary Products is an Adelaide-based social enterprise that sells organic cotton pads and tampons. 100% of net profits go towards supporting domestic and global outreach programs that seek to end period poverty.