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Eva Marie Carney: Ending Period Poverty, One Moon Time Bag At A Time

Eva Marie Carney: Ending Period Poverty, One Moon Time Bag At A Time

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Eva Marie Carney, the founder and executive director of The Kwek Society (pronounced "queck"). Let’s learn what’s happening at The Kwek Society and how Eva is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Eva! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through The Kwek Society?

Eva: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! As many as one in three students in the US suffer "period poverty," meaning they don't have period care items to take care of their periods. The products are super expensive and families struggle to pay for rent, food, and transportation costs and so often can't afford to buy tampons or pads. The result? Students stay home from school when on their periods, risk their health by using supplies for too long, or use make-do supplies like toilet paper or rags. What The Kwek Society does is get period care items into schools with significant indigenous populations so that all students affected can stay in school and maintain good health and sense of dignity when on their periods. We also educate students about periods and puberty.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Eva: The Kwek Society is run by indigenous women who want to give back and to celebrate indigenous people across North America. We are passionate about making sure that indigenous students and their peers aren't at a disadvantage just because they menstruate! We work to make sure that students experience feelings of dignity and celebration when they have their "moon times" (what many indigenous people in the US call their periods), and are excited when students tell us how much they love the "moon time bags" we get them. We also think that educating students about puberty and periods is vital, so we offer books about these topics that are written for girls and boys. We are motivated to end feelings of shame or embarrassment about periods.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Eva: As of mid-May 2023 we are helping students in over 100 schools across 14 US states. We've distributed over 1.5 million supplies (pads, tampons, liners and underwear) and more than 16,000 books and moon time bags—sweet cotton bags sewn by our supporters that we stuff with pads and liners and that can fit in a backpack or locker. We estimate that we will reach more than 10,000 students this year. Through our website, social media, press coverage, and this platform (thank you, Ladderworks X Nasdaq), we are educating folks about period poverty, and educating about and celebrating periods. And we are just getting started!

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Eva: We hope folks will visit our website to read some of the traditional, indigenous teachings about moon times that we share there. We are working to make this part of our website a place where students and community members find wisdom and become energized, and even excited, about their periods.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Eva: Please share our story on your social media and connect us with others! If you have a traditional moon time teaching to share, know of a school where we can reach students in need with our period care items and educational material, or would like to adopt a school, please let us know through via email. Other ways to help are listed on our website, and maybe there's a way we haven't even thought of! We can't wait to hear from you.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Eva—it’s been an honor!

Eva Marie Carney is The Kwek Society’s Founder and Executive Director. She holds elected office as a Member of the Legislature of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, with reservation lands near Shawnee, Oklahoma. She also works as a human rights lawyer in Annandale, Virginia. She is a dual citizen of the US and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Eva graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BA in history and received her JD from Stanford Law School. (First published on the Ladderworks website on July 24, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Shikha Tandon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.