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What is Period Poverty?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

I attended PERIODCon earlier this year, which was led by Nadya Okamoto. I learned about the menstrual movement and how important it is to address. Women make up half of the population yet still lack many of the resources needed to live our lives comfortably. It’s important that we talk about these things and remove the stigma around period talk.

The first ever National Period Day was on Oct. 19 this year. It was a national rally to end period poverty and the tampon tax. If you don’t know what period poverty is, here’s a quick run-down.

What is it?

Period poverty is a lot of things encompassed in one term. It’s the inequitable access to menstrual hygiene products. Menstruators who experience poverty or low-income situations often have to choose between menstrual hygiene products or food. It leads women to use unsanitary alternatives such as cloths, rags, tissues, socks and newspapers.

Who does it affect?

In short: everyone. Even if you do not menstruate, you know someone who does. Remember that menstruation is not a choice — it’s a biological process.

In the United States, 34 states charge a tax on menstrual hygiene products because they do not consider them necessary supplies.

Why is it important?

It’s easy to treat period poverty as something that’s out of sight and thus, out of mind. The reality is that it affects millions of people in the United States every day. The average woman menstruates for 2,535 days, according to the United Nations. That’s approximately seven years.

How can I help?

There are easy ways to directly help those in need. Homeless shelters always need pads and tampons. Next time you’re on your monthly pad/tampon run, pick up an extra box for your local homeless shelter. When I went to PERIODCon, we participated in a period-packing party. We packed brown paper bags with menstrual hygiene products like pads and tampons. Organized events like this are great ways to bond with friends as well as give back to those in need. You can get involved with local organizations and campus organizations like PERIOD chapters.

How can I learn more?

There are a lot of resources and studies online to read. You can purchase, rent or check out books at a library if available.

Here are some books you can check out:

Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement

Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity

Tampon Taxes, Discrimination, and Human Rights

Period poverty is an issue taking place right in our backyard, so let’s do something about it and stop acting like it’s not.