Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Many people when they hear the term period poverty, they picture a third world country, with high poverty rates, economic instability, and lack of resources to fulfill basic human needs, similar to what we saw in the Oscar-wining short, Period: End of Sentence. While that might ring true there, period poverty is a global issue that many menstruators still struggle with even in first world countries like the united states. On October 19th, 2019, Period organization hosted the first ever National Period Day. Partnering with Seventh Generation, they mobilized 60 rallies in all 50 states and 3 other countries to call for period equity, eliminating the “tampon tax”, and destigmitizing menstruation - the natural healthy event half of the population experience in every ovulatory cycle. People united to demand freely accessible healthy menstrual products in schools, jails, and shelters.
In the United States, a woman would spend more than $70 on menstrual products each year. For some of us, this may not sound like a lot of money, but it can make the difference between putting food on the table and buying pads or tampons for some women, especially those who have other mouths to feed. The estimated number of pads a woman would use throughout her lifetime is 16,000 pads. Regardless of income, women across the country spend significant amount of money on essential menstrual products each year. It is 2019, an yet, 34 states still deem menstrual products as non-essential, “luxury” item; therefore still apply a sale tax on them. Michigan is one of the 34 states that still taxes menstrual products, but not magazines or donuts. “I didn’t pay taxes for the donuts I brought to the rally today, but I still have to pay the 6% sale tax on my tampons every month,” said one of the Michigan Rally’s organizers. In the United States, 1 in 5 girls will miss school because she did not have access to period products. The stigma around periods had led to a lack of important discussions on women’s health, and finding real solutions to period poverty. This exact stigma is what stops many of us of thinking about what it is like for a low-income or a homeless women to menstruate.
I had the privilege to join the National Period Day’s Michigan rally on Saturday, October 19th, 2019, taking place at the University of Michigan. I was inspired by the organizers, the speakers, the allies, the high school students, and the state representatives who were taking action to put an end to period poverty and removing the stigma far away from menstruation. I was especially inspired by Rep, Dingell who walked us through the journey that the United States as a nation had to stand where we stood yesterday. She full heatedly supported the demand of having freely accessible period products in schools, shelters, and prisons. She also shed a light on an important topic that affects every single menstruator out there, and that is the ingredients that make these products. As for now, there are no regulations or laws that forces manufacturers to disclose their ingredients for menstrual products, and that is something Rep. Gingell is willing to take on, as she believes it is the consumer’s right to know what is going into her body.
This rally was a heartwarming event where I saw children, men, and women united to destigmitize periods and demand real change. The rally ended with beautifully written poems and shared period stories that made us all realize how unique very period is, just like we are.
Here are few beautiful moments I enjoyed capturing during the rally. Hope you do to!