recently announced that all menstrual products will be provided for free in schools by June of this year. In the United States, the repeal of the “pink tax”, which is an extra amount that is charged to feminine products, was introduced in the 116th Congress but ended up not passing through. As more people discuss the importance of addressing period poverty, many influential organizations have dedicated themselves to raising awareness.
Here are some of my favorite accounts that have been educating and destigmatizing menstruation:
The Period Movement is a global nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate period poverty. With chapters all across the United States, they are determined to have important conversations that educate and inspire menstruators everywhere to speak up about periods in their community. Most chapters also have a donation drive for menstrual products that are then sent to countries that have been hit the hardest by period poverty. They challenge the institutions that are already in place and advocate for equitable distribution of menstrual products. From fighting the tampon tax to delivering over 5 million menstrual products to those in need, the Period Movement is making big waves to ensure no one ever has to feel ashamed for their period.
Operation Period spreads incredible awareness about menstruation. From advising on how to deal with cramps to discussing what could be behind an irregular period, they are here to provide answers to any questions we may have. Growing up, it was certainly difficult for me to bring up these questions to my parents or even my doctor. Through Operation Period, they are showing us that menstruators don’t need to feel any shame asking for information on their periods. They also donate products to those in need as well. Periods are celebrated not stigmatized. They have built an incredible sense of community with their newsletter and their frequent “Period Stories” Instagram posts. These “Period Stories” are done in collaboration with other brands who run their menstruation awareness accounts and share relatable experiences, making menstruators feel less alone in their periods. By normalizing these stories, they are fighting against the belief that discussing periods is “inappropriate.” During the pandemic, they have also supported healthcare professionals and communities of color with menstrual products.
In February 2019, “Period. End of Sentence” won an Oscar for the “Best Documentary Short” category. The film was created by folks at The Pad Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring that people across the world never have to miss out on their education because of their period. According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people around the world don’t have access to proper sanitation facilities, and more than half of the schools in developing countries don’t have proper hygiene facilities. This leads to a large number of menstruators missing school because of their period. According to a study done by UNESCO, about 350 million girls did not have access to adequate utilities that would allow them to manage their menstrual hygiene in school. The Pad Project is dedicated to ensuring that periods do not stop anyone from getting a quality education. Specifically, the organization funds pad-making machines and cloth pads that are more accessible to communities in developing countries. They also provide these communities with workshops that teach them how to maintain their menstrual hygiene.
There are still a lot of taboos and stigmas surrounding periods around the world. By educating yourself and engaging in meaningful dialogue, we can make sure that no one ever feels an ounce of shame discussing something as natural as menstruation. These accounts are a great way to learn more and advocate for people who menstruate everywhere. I would also like to point out that a lot of our conversation surrounding periods should also include gender equality.
Not all women have periods and many in the LGBTQIA+ community have periods even if they don’t identify as women. Supporting all people who bleed is necessary when discussing menstruation. I implore you to use gender-neutral language such as “menstruators” when discussing periods because no one should be left out of something as important as menstrual equity!