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The Fight Against Period Poverty

Right now, as I write this, I am on my period. No- wait- don’t click away. Chances are, you’re thinking, “Why do I need to know that?” or “Wow, TMI.”

But here’s the issue with that response: the stigmatism of periods is causing a massive issue in our country and around the world — period poverty. What is period poverty? The lack of access to every day, necessary menstrual products like pads and tampons.

Because periods are rarely talked about, considered gross, and even shamed, there is a clear lack of care about the women and people who face them.

A study led by PERIOD, an organization that aims to educate about period poverty, found that 76% of students are taught more about the biology of frogs than the human female body in school. So many girls are not taught about their bodies, reproductive health, and how to care for it. And this makes it easy to take advantage of them, like charging high prices for period products or making them otherwise inaccessible.

Nearly 1 in 5 girls in the United States has missed school because of not having access to period products. And it doesn’t change when we get older either. According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, 1 in 3 people have missed work or other events because of inaccessible care. This especially impacts people who are low income, as well as people of color, trans people, or other marginalized communities. Period products are also, in many states, not covered by food stamps or other similar aid.

Period products have become a privilege, when they are a necessity, and should be a right.

There are, however, organizations attempting to fight period poverty through education and calls to action. In fact, you might even see the fight mentioned on tampons and pads you buy or see in the store.

One such organization is Aunt Flow. Aunt Flow is a brand that creates their own organic period products. They aim to be inclusive and advocate for every person to have access to their own period products. So, for every 10 tampons or pads sold, they donate one to a person in need. Since 2021, they’ve donated over 5 million period products.

Many are fighting for period products to be free in schools and other public bathrooms. In 2021, Gov. Pritzker signed a bill requiring public school districts to provide free period products in Illinois. This doesn’t cover private schools though.

UIC student Zeenat Muhammad is vice president of a student organization involved in the period poverty fight called Blood Buds. They’re advocating for free period products in private universities as well. They work with the UIC and greater Chicago community to educate on periods and call for action.

For the students of Blood Buds, “We value open discussions of periods and menstrual health. It is critical to include everyone in menstruation conversations.”

That’s why it is important to keep fighting and advocating, and especially to remove the stigma of periods. Without this, many women and others will keep suffering because of the lack of basic care.

 

By Caileigh Winslade, Freshman, DePaul University

Instagram: @fairytwist / X: @fairytwist_

 

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Written by Caileigh Winslade

I'm your local writer, video editor, and game designer, but when I'm not creating things I'm probably fueling my rhythm game addiction or cuddling one of my four cats.

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