How National Period Day Seeks to Close the Poverty Gap
For most of us, having a period feels like an inconvenience. Even if you make a calendar and know that it’s coming, it can be a little annoying. The cramping. The mood swings. Ugh.
But what if knowing your period was coming brought about dread? And not the kind of dread knowing that your period is the same week as a big test.
It’s the dread that comes along with knowing that you can’t afford menstrual products at all.
This is the reality of one in four women in the United States alone. And when it comes to girls, one in five will miss school because they lack period protection.
The Menstrual Movement started in October of 2019 to address several issues surrounding having a period. This grassroots, youth-led movement based out of Portland, Oregon is who we have to thank for National Period Day on October 19th. It aims to focus on issues around having a period that have gone unaddressed across the world.
It’s mission is to address period inequity. Everything from the way people can get menstrual products, to the tampon tax, to the stigma that surrounds having a period in the first place.
The goal is to bridge the gap and ensure that a period doesn’t have to make someone miss out on work, education, or living their best life.
What is Period Poverty?
Unfortunately, people in poverty cannot have access to the menstrual products they need due to cost. Sometimes it’s the difference between choosing a meal and choosing a pad or tampon.
Menstrual items should be freely available and seen as essential as toilet paper.
But unfortunately, the government sees these items as non-essential items. This means the government taxes any menstrual-related item. You may have heard this referred to as the ‘pink tax’ in the news.
Encourage those around you to support state legislation to end the ‘pink tax’ or tampon tax. There are 36 states that still tax menstrual products. If yours is one of them, pay attention. The ones that treat tampons as a tax-free product are: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
If you’re not old enough to vote, you can still help people by donating menstrual products to homeless shelters. It helps out to bring them into your school because you never know who may be in need.
This is one of the things that The Menstrual Movement has helped with, donating over 5 million products to those that need them. You can help in your local community by donating menstrual items to local shelters. They’re often under looked as a needed item.
What is the Period Stigma?
Half of the world’s population can menstruate, and yet it’s still seen as a taboo topic. From the way we hide our menstrual products on the way to the bathroom. From the way that we’re shamed from even talking about having a period in the first place.
This stigma leads to health issues, poor education, and low attendance rates in schools worldwide.
How can we battle the period stigma?
Talk openly about it. No more euphemisms about Mother Nature or ‘that time’. Call it what it is: A period. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. There are 800 million people on the planet menstruating at any given time. That’s a whole lot of people to stay quiet about!
Our bodies’ processes are natural and anything but taboo.
How Can I Help?
Since The Menstrual Movement is still a new organization. Spreading the word and helping others is the best thing you can do. You can even check their website to see if a chapter exists in your area.
If your area doesn’t have a chapter, start one! Don’t worry if it’s something you’ve never done before. Reach out to others who have experience in doing so. Or, you could send them an email and see what it takes to get started. There will be people who are more than happy to help you for a worthy cause.
A happy period is something that we all deserve to have. If we all take action, we’ll be able to change the stigma surrounding periods one person - one community at a time.