Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall says national recognition has boosted her mission to end period poverty

Isobel Marshall receives her 2021 Young Australian of the Year Award from Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra in January. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Isobel Marshall receives her 2021 Young Australian of the Year Award from Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra in January. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Is there someone making difference in your community who you reckon could change the way we think about issues in Australia?

Isobel Marshall, the 2021 Young Australian of the Year, had a simple mission: to end period poverty in Australia and beyond.

Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education for young women, which is of particular concern in Third World countries.

At 18 years of age, Isobel and her school friend turned business partner Eloise Hall were able to crowd-fund a mammoth $56,000 to help launch Taboo, a range of ethically sourced, organic cotton pads and tampons.

Sold in Australia since in August 2019, 100 per cent of net profits from the products go to One Girls, a charity providing education programs for girls and women in Uganda and Sierra Leone.

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"Over the past year our community has grown quite a lot through school presentations, advocacy efforts and brand awareness," Ms Marshall said.

"We have this community who are really passionate about our mission to end period poverty."

Being named the Young Australian of the Year in January had helped generate more publicity for the South Australian's cause, ensuring that more people than ever were breaking down the stigma around periods.

"It's given us so many media opportunities to spread the mission - the core component of that is to spark conversations about periods which has been highly stigmatised," Ms Marshall said.

"We've been able to spark that conversation through presentations and keynotes, and it's given us access to a whole new range of customers as well."

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Feedback about her efforts had been very supportive, and women had been especially appreciative of the opportunity to discuss menstruation more freely.

Isobel Marshall's mission to end period poverty earned her the 2021 Young Australian of the Year Award. Picture: australianoftheyear.org.au/Salty Dingo

Isobel Marshall's mission to end period poverty earned her the 2021 Young Australian of the Year Award. Picture: australianoftheyear.org.au/Salty Dingo

"The feedback has been so incredible, it feels like people have been wanting to have this conversation for decades and decades," she said.

"To have the open space to do that is really refreshing, the response has been really positive."

Australians are being urged to nominate a deserving member of their community for the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards.

There are four different categories - Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero - and nominations at australianoftheyear.org.au close on July 31.

  • ACM, the publisher of this masthead, is media partner of the Australian of the Year Awards.
This story Isobel starts conversation to end stigma first appeared on The Canberra Times.