Voices of Dignity: Bridget Williams

Voices of Dignity:  Bridget Williams

Kia ora Bridget, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your connection to Dignity?

Kia ora. I am Bridget Williams and mother of Dignity’s co -founder Miranda Hitchings. I work as a General Practitioner on the north side of Christchurch.

What does the word Dignity mean to you?

To me a person with dignity is someone who has a quiet self -assurance that they are an OK person who can stand with their head held high. They know they are not perfect, are not filled with self -importance and recognise that other people are as important as themselves.

What were your first thoughts when Miranda shared her ideas for what we now know as Dignity with you?

I thought that it was great that Miranda and Jacinta had been accepted for the social enterprise boot camp through Victoria University as a summer job and thought they would learn lots. What I did not expect that Dignity would take off in the way it has, and that it would have such a large influence on changing New Zealanders attitude towards period poverty. I am very proud that Miranda and Jacinta and their team are still working so hard to continue to make improvements in this area after achieving so much in the past five years. 

What was a meaningful experience relating to ideas of equity that you’ve had?

When I was growing up I had no awareness that NZ had any issues with equity. Looking back I can see the enormous differences between girls and boys upbringing and expectations for their futures. Mothers were expected to be at home and do all the house work and cooking. Fathers went to work. It was expected that girls would marry and therefore not so much importance was put onto their future career. It was expected that the vast majority of girls would train as nurses, teachers or secretaries.  Career advice consisted of choosing three jobs from a long list of possibilities and receiving a single page of written information about it.  I remember one of my choices was airline pilot because at that time it was not possible for females to train in New Zealand for that.

How would you like to see the current status quo around access and period products and period equity in Aotearoa change? 

I would like to see the vision of Dignity realised, that everyone in Aotearoa has equal access to period products and no one misses out on opportunities because of their period. I sometimes do a clinic at a local high school and am aware of the difficulties of some students attending school regularly because of social stresses and limited access to funding. I am aware of Dignity’s products being available to students and the difference this can make to these students not just from a financial point of view but also because of normalising period issues and allowing the student’s more dignity in receiving the products. I think it is great the government is starting to do work in this area but do think the need for other products such as menstrual cup availability is important. Extending the programme to other women’s groups is another area that would be beneficial and so good that Dignity is working in this area.

Ngā mihi Bridget!

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