Period Poverty is the Social Justice Issue We Should All Be Talking About

Women spend seven years of their lives menstruating, but most of us don’t think about our periods too much. Sure, they’re annoying and painful, but they come and go as another natural part of life. For thousands of American women, however, the impending start to their next menstrual cycle means soon having to choose between buying tampons or paying rent-- or, even worse, buying tampons or feeding their kids. 


This phenomenon is called Period Poverty; it describes the lack of access to menstrual products due to financial constraints. Many people overlook the fact that access to menstrual products is an essential component of women's rights. Most of us ladies are familiar with the panicked plea, “does anyone have a tampon?” when our periods start unexpectedly, but Period Poverty consists of an entirely different level of powerlessness. Imagine how disenfranchised and vulnerable you would feel if you were on your period and routinely did not have access to hygiene products to alleviate it. Imagine how insecure you would feel if makeshift toilet paper pads were the only way you could get through your period because you had to spend your last dollar on something “more important.”



Forcing women to choose between their menstrual hygiene and other necessities is cruel and a public health crisis, yet our government systems contribute to this widespread problem. Welfare programs such as SNAP and Medicaid do not cover the cost of menstrual products, and in most states these items are taxed as “luxury goods,” colloquially-termed the tampon tax. When 1 in 5 girls in the U.S. has missed school due to lack of period protection, it’s unacceptable that our society keeps putting up these barriers to access for simple health necessities.


Period Poverty represents just another way in which women’s rights aren’t taken seriously in our political and cultural systems. When female legislators advocate for policies to alleviate Period Poverty, their concerns are routinely dismissed as inappropriate for civic discourse. Even in our own lives, I’m sure that we can recall times where a peer has shamed us for even mentioning the very existence of our periods. Period Poverty, therefore, is such an important social justice issue because it confronts the ways in which our society devalues women’s experiences, women’s bodily autonomy, and women’s power in public discourse. 


Kristen Bryant-Things I Keep In My Purse Flat Lays