Why You Should Care About Period Policy
May is an important month for Global G.L.O.W. and the world- it’s menstrual health month, a time set aside to educate the world on the real and negative consequences of period bias and period poverty worldwide.
Why is it important for the world to understand more about period stigma and period poverty? Here are some very important reasons, right here in the U.S.:
- 30 states in the U.S. charge taxes for period products. According to Period Equity, those states collectively rake in $125 million dollars per year from women, girls and menstruators of all genders.
- Only six states provide free period products to teenagers in schools, even though 1 in 5 teens in this U.S. study had struggled to purchase period products (or know someone who has).
- Vulnerable populations in the U.S. cannot buy period products with federal assistance like food stamps, meaning that some families are literally choosing between period products and food.
In other parts of the world where Global G.L.O.W. works, the number of menstruators who miss school due to their period is much higher. According to UNESCO 1 in 10 girls across the African continent will miss school when they are on their period. The percentage of girls affected is much greater because in addition to period products being unavailable or unaffordable, there are often inadequate bathroom facilities in school buildings and lack of teacher support to make accommodations for girls. Research has shown that missing school due to inadequate menstrual hygiene access inevitably leads to girls dropping out of school over the long term because they will fall behind due to the school absences.
Wonderfully, progress is being made to combat period poverty and stigma globally. In February 2021, the New Zealand Prime Minister announced that across the country, period products would be made available to all students in schools as a way to combat period poverty. Currently, 1 in 12 students in New Zealand miss school due to not having access to period products. But this new initiative makes New Zealand the third country (after Scotland and the UK) to put forward this important offering for girls and menstruators.
As we celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day on 5/28, we must recognize that more work is needed in the U.S. and across the globe to address period poverty. The barriers are still high, even in the U.S. states where some period product access is provided to students. For instance, in California, free period products are only available in schools where 40% or more of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch, which means many students still don’t have access. The United States should follow the lead of these other countries and make period products available to youth in schools across the entire country. No young person should ever have to miss school because of a normal and natural part of being alive!
Join us for Menstrual Hygiene Day on 5/28! Click here to learn more and to download important resources, including shareable images for your social media channels.
The views expressed in this blog are that of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Global G.L.O.W. and its employees.