This Woman is Changing Things for Homeless Women in Edinburgh

Anna Krakowska wants to clarify that she is not a leader of a movement. “I’m just a citizen. I think it’s important for me to support others less fortunate than myself. That’s my only reason behind it.”

The “it” she’s talking about is indeed, much bigger than her. On Wednesday 8th March, Anna will be one of the many women collecting tampons and sanitary pads for homeless women in and around Edinburgh. Anna is part of Gals for Gals Scotland, a feminist initiative created to promote gender equality on a global scale. Originally created in October 2016 to help organise a protest on women’s reproductive rights in Poland, it quickly grew to foster a series of global events to protest violence against women. Soon, they became involved in collaborative protests with the International Women’s Strike, a similar venture which describes itself as “as a response to the current social, legal, political, moral and verbal violence experienced by contemporary women.” Gals for Gals Scotland is now part of the IWS platform and will be holding another series of events to mark International Women’s Day.

Part of this will include a collection of sanitary towels and tampons to be distributed to women affected by Edinburgh’s homelessness epidemic. The issue of Edinburgh’s homeless population is nothing new, but the basic needs of homeless women can often be forgotten in the political fire. Case in point: sanitary pads. “Homeless women often have to choose between food and their basic hygiene. Sanitary pads are treated as ‘luxury items’. It shouldn’t be a luxury item. A period is just a normal human function…it’s definitely not a luxury item.”

Anna has been collecting sanitary pads since before Christmas and will continue to collect on Wednesday during the International Women’s Strike. Gals for Gals has tried to boost their visibility on social media to encourage others to do the same in their own communities. “I would ask people to try and source items themselves and ask for them from people that they know. It’s very easy to do and it makes a difference. We are hoping to create signs where people can write about why they strike.” When asked about why she strikes, her answer is simple. “I would like to create a society which is inclusive – for me, my friends, my family and my children. I would like not to be afraid to walk the streets in the evenings.”

Anna was born and raised in Poland and moved to Scotland 12 years ago, where she now lives in Edinburgh with her two young sons. She first became involved in feminist movements around a year ago, when she felt that the laws in Poland regarding abortion were becoming too serious to ignore. “Sometimes we need something drastic to be a wake-up call. I think that’s why people who hadn’t previously been involved in activism went out to the streets, en masse.”

With a slew of events taking place in Edinburgh this week, it’s clear that Anna is just one person who is helping to raise women’s voices is society. “It’s very simple, really. I would like boys and girls to have the same opputunities in life” says Anna, making her point emphatic. “I’ve had enough.”

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