Inspiring People: Veronica Martinez, founder of BruZelle
0.1 Who are you Veronica?
I am the founder of BruZelle. I have two daughters. Before launching my association I worked in a childcare center and as an assistant in a hospital.
0.2 How was BruZelle born?
One day I met a homeless woman in the subway and she asked me if I could give her a menstrual pad. I had no idea that for some woman it was difficult to get some. This encounter has been a real shock for me. It was the starting point to create and develop my association. BruZelle was born in October 2016.
0.3 What do you do with BruZelle?
We collect menstrual pads, place them in nice handmade fabric bags and redistribute them freely to the women in need. We have several collecting points across Belgium where you can bring menstrual pads. Labelchic is one of them.
0.4 Can you tell us concretely what menstrual poverty is?
There is no legal definition so I will give you my personal vision of it, regarding my experience of the field. When you have to choose between an essential good, such as bread, spaghettis or baby diapers, and an intimate hygiene product. This is when menstrual poverty starts.
0.5 What is the situation in Belgium? How many women are dealing with menstrual poverty?
Regarding our figures, we collected 50.000 pads and made 2500 bags in 2017. In 2021 so far we collected 310 978 pads and made 15 549 bags. It is hard to tell how many women are suffering from menstrual poverty because some of them are taking 4 bags at a time. What I see is that it is getting worse and worse, and the Covid crisis obviously didn’t help.
0.6 How did the Covid crisis impact your association?
This crisis had a major impact on our actions. This was very serious because we were closed, as wel as the collecting points in shops so we had no more material. Also the seamstresses and volunteers who used to sew the fabric bags were all of a sudden only doing face masks. Thankfully we received donations which helped us buy some menstrual pads.
0.7 How can people help and support your association?
In several ways:
— There are several collecting points in which everyone can come and drop either menstrual pads or fabric bags (Labelchic is one of them!)
— Make a donation
— Participate in a workshop to prepare/sew the bags
All the addresses of collecting points and our bank details are on the website.
0.8 One last thing you want to share?
I want to say that periods are every 28 days so menstrual poverty is all the time, all year round. It never stops. So we are always in need of some help.
Also, I want to add that although BruZelle has a feminist spirit and values women's rights, we are highly welcoming men that would like to help us. After all, we are all reunited around the same issue.
Click here for more info about BruZelle