Meet Rochelle Courtenay, from Share the Dignity

ROCHELLE COURTENAY is the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity, a
national charity founded in 2015 with the mission to ensure everyone is afforded the
dignity in life that so many of us take for granted. Considered Australia’s Pad Lady,
Rochelle’s quest has seen over 4 million period products donated by the community,
6000 volunteers join the cause and over 3000 charities supported. All this work has been fuelled by passion, necessity, and dogged determination

"Just go for it! You have to be your own biggest cheerleader in life. Let people know about the incredible work that you do, and connect with other amazing women on the way."

When did you start your business?
I was reading an article about women having to use newspaper or toilet paper for their
period. I was absolutely shocked and just knew I had to do something. I started
collecting period products locally, and Share the Dignity has just grown from there into a nationwide charity.

What was the inspiration behind your work/business?
After reading the article about women having to use newspaper or toilet paper for
their period, I knew someone had to do something about this. I then decided the
question wasn’t “Why is no one doing anything” but rather, “What’s stopping me
from doing something?”.
At the time I was a personal trainer, so I started asking my clients to bring a
packet of pads for every glass of wine they drank. In the first month, I collected
450 packets and pads and delivered them to local charities. But periods are a
monthly occurrence, providing period products once doesn’t fix the issue and so
Share the Dignity was born.
Over 6,000 volunteers have since joined me in my mission to end period poverty
and thanks to their selflessness and kindness we have been able to collect over
4 million period products and over 800,000 bags filled with essentials for the
people we support.

What are you most excited about in your work/business?
There is so much to be proud of, Share the Dignity has achieved so much in our 8 years. Our mission to is provide menstrual equity for all. We are passionate about ensuring free and dignified access to period products, so I invented the Dignity Vending Machine, which is a free vending machine that dispenses free period packs containing 2 pads and 6 tampons at the push of a button. We now have 512 of these installed in domestic violence shelters, charities, homeless hubs, libraries, Aboriginal Medical Services and other areas across the country.
Through our biannual Dignity Drives in March and August, we collect period products
and distribute these to over 3000 charities Australia-wide we now have collected and
distributed over 4 million period products.
In November we run our much-loved #ItsintheBag campaign where we collect bags filled with essentials and again distribute these to charities nationwide, we have now collected over 800,000 bags.
We also created an Indigenous Menstrual Heath program as many remote Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Island communities do not have access to clean water, working toilets
and cheap period products, so far we have shipped over 204,000 packets of period
In 2021 we did a Bloody Big Survey looking at people’s experience with their period.
From that survey, we saw the need to end the shame and stigma as part of our journey
to end period poverty and so we created a Creating Period Pride competition. It
encourages Australia’s youth to submit creative, thought-provoking content that aims to remove the shame and stigma associated with having a period.
We have also done a lot of advocating over the years for things like axing the tampon
tax, providing period products in hospitals, providing free period products in schools and we continue to campaign to ensure menstrual equity for all.

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your work/business?
There are so many moving parts to Share the Dignity and there will always be
challenges but I am incredibly grateful for our volunteers, team and supporters who
continue to campaign for change.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a work/business?
Just go for it! If you have something important to share with the world, it’s time to stop
waiting and start saying “Why not me!?”

Why did you enter the Women Changing the World Awards?
I hope that sharing Share the Dignity in a global forum will encourage others to work
towards ensuring menstrual equity for all in their countries too.

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend in person as I am based in Australia but I loved
streaming the ceremony from here in Queensland, Australia. It was incredible to see so
many women celebrating each other and coming together to change the world. I truly
believe there’s enough room for all women to win and that only wonderful things happen when women work together.

What surprised you most about the awards?

How did the awards help you in your work/business?
It was amazing to share mine and Share the Dignity’s story to a global audience. I hope
that our story inspires others to campaign for menstrual equity in their country too.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about entering the awards?
Just go for it! You have to be your own biggest cheerleader in life. Let people know
about the incredible work that you do, and connect with other amazing women on the

What has been the best thing about starting your own work/business?
The women, girls and people with a period we have been able to help. Nothing
compares to knowing we have made a difference to someone in need. I am so blessed
to have over 6000 passionate volunteers who selflessly give their time to help Share the Dignity on this journey. I have met so many incredibly people a long the way.

What’s happening next in your work/business?
There’s still so much to do to ensure menstrual equity for all, so we will keep
campaigning and advocating for the women, girls and people with a period we support.

What are your big plans for the future?
We’re working to end period poverty in Australia, so we’ll keep campaigning for this. My
hope is that we can provide free period products to all who need them in Australia, and hopefully inspire others to do so globally.

How can we connect with you?


2024 Women Changing The World Awards

Nominations are open now for the 2024 Women Changing The World Awards