First National Period Day Calls for Menstrual Equity

Lauren Salmiery, National Field Director

On October 19, PERIOD (an organization “fighting to end period poverty and period stigma through service, education, and advocacy”) launched the first National Period Day with 60 rallies in 50 states and four countries. Population Connection Action Fund joined the DC chapter of PERIOD for the National Period Day Rally in Washington, DC. An estimated 500 people gathered in front of the Capitol building to call for:

  1. Ending the inhumane and abusive treatment of migrants and refugees at the U.S.–Mexico border and in detention centers operated by Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). News reports of the lawsuit that was filed against the administration highlight the horrors of migrants bleeding through their pants due to lack of menstrual products.
  2. Ending the #TamponTax in the remaining 35 states where it exists, and providing period products in all public schools, prisons, and shelters.

Advocates and allies spoke about the importance of educating young people about menstruation to break down taboos, and they encouraged the audience to challenge their own stigmas around menstruation. Speakers from local organizations, such as #HappyPeriod DC, spoke about their work collecting and distributing menstrual hygiene products to homeless women throughout the District.

Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, spoke of the reality faced at the border and in detention facilities by people who menstruate. In detention facilities, it is typical that a migrant is given one pad per day — not nearly the quantity needed to remain sanitary while menstruating. This results in menstruators visibly bleeding through their clothes, often without access to running water to clean themselves.

At Population Connection Action Fund, we believe that menstruation should not hold anyone back from achieving their full potential. With 1 in 4 teens reporting having missed class due to a lack of access to menstrual products, period poverty continues to be a factor in high absence rates among adolescent girls in school and thus perpetuates the cycle of poverty. By eliminating the tampon tax and providing period products in public schools, prisons, and shelters, we can take a big step towards gender equity in our schools and communities.

Introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (NY-6), the Menstrual Equity for All Act (H.R. 1882) would define menstrual hygiene as a qualified medical expense, permit homeless assistance providers to use funding allocated for shelter necessities on menstrual hygiene products, and require all federal buildings to make menstrual hygiene products accessible in restrooms, among other protections. You can call your representative today at 202-224-3121 and tell them to support the Menstrual Equity for All Act!

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