- Saturday 8 October is Period Action Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and taking action about the period poverty that persists around the world.
- A quarter of people in the United States who need menstrual products struggle to afford them.
- Advocates are also pushing for policy change, such as the eradication of “tampon taxes” that still exist in 22 states.
The action day of the period is Saturday. And awareness of period poverty around the world is critical, advocates say, as the fight for menstrual equity continues.
In the United States, one in four people who need menstrual products today struggle to afford them, according to the non-profit Advocacy Alliance for Period Supplies. And more than 20 states still tax period products, often as “non-essential” items or luxury goods.
Activists and numerous nonprofits are working to change these boring realities.
“Vintage products are actually a medical necessity. They are a necessity and everyone should have access to them, just like basic food and shelter. It’s a human rights issue,” Damaris Pereda, director of national programs at Global non-profit period. , USA TODAY said.
Period Day of action, which period. started in 2019, it “serves as a global day of advocacy” to celebrate young activists fighting for menstrual equity, strengthen calls to action and raise awareness of the impacts of period poverty that occur every day.
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This year’s Period Action Day is also associated with the Women’s March, Pereda pointed out, because the two share the same weekend. period is encouraging people to participate in marches near them, hold period product conferences and educate each other about menstrual equity this Saturday, but action and awareness don’t have to be limited to one day , he said.
Here’s what advocates want you to know.
The poverty of the period has grown
Period poverty, defined as the inability to access period supplies and/or receive adequate menstrual health education, has grown in recent years across the country.
A 2021 study by U of Kotex, a founding sponsor of the Alliance for Period Supplies, showed that two out of five people have struggled to buy period products in their lifetime due to a lack of income, a 35% increase in the menstrual hygiene brand’s 2018 research.
“Half the world menstruates. And there are millions of people in this country today who need access to these basic needs (and) they just don’t have them because they don’t have the money,” Jennifer Gaines, director of programs at the Alliance for Period Supplies, USA TODAY said, also noting the impact of COVID-19 on period poverty.
Twenty-seven percent of all respondents said the pandemic made it harder to access menstrual products.
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The study also showed the disproportionate racial and socioeconomic impacts of period poverty: Nearly a quarter of black (23%) and Latino (24%) respondents strongly agree that they have struggled to afford period products during the last year And more than a third of low-income women surveyed (38 percent) reported missing work, school or other events because of a lack of period supplies, the study found.
Gaines added that young students living in poverty, indigenous communities on tribal lands, rural populations, single mothers, incarcerated people and the homeless are among other groups that experience period poverty the most.
“There are so many different communities across the country that are affected by this,” Gaines said.
The report on the status of the 2021 period of Period. found a similar growth in period poverty in schools, with a quarter of menstruating students reporting difficulty accessing period products, compared to a fifth of students in 2019.
“Tampon tax” still exists in 22 states, even after recent push to eradicate it
Both Gaines and Pereda stress that advocacy for legislative and policy change is critical in the fight for menstrual equity. A starting point is the “tax buffer”.
As of September 2022, 22 states currently charge sales tax on period goods, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies. These necessary menstrual supplies are also taxed as luxury goods, with rates similar to makeup, electronics and decor, the nonprofit notes.
“If you’re someone who menstruates, you know that having a pad or having a tampon or other menstrual product is not a luxury,” Gaines said.
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Many states in the country, although not all, exempt from taxes on basic necessities such as groceries and medicine. But menstrual products are often not included, which is especially surprising when some of the same states with “tampon taxes” have exemptions for prescription drugs like Viagra, Pereda said.
Statistics on the total cost of vintage products over time fluctuate significantly. But US News estimates that a person who menstruates spends an average of $9,000 on menstrual products in their lifetime. The National Organization for Women says that number is closer to $18,000. Proponents argue that “tampon taxes” have a significant impact.
“These are essential items. There’s no reason they should be taxed unfairly,” Ameer Abdul, Period.’s national campaign director, told USA TODAY. “We’ve spoken to family members who have told us how, at the end of the month, they have to consider whether they want to buy some more food to put in the fridge or a box of tampons. And that’s quite outrageous.”
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Especially in recent years, more and more have worked to eradicate the “tampon tax”. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to eliminate taxes on vintage products; the last, Virginia, where the tax exemption will take effect in January. Five other states do not have a state sales tax.
Here are the 22 states that currently tax the sale of period goods, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The legislation does not end with the “buffer”. While policies vary in some states, Gaines noted that menstrual products are not included in the federal assistance programs SNAP and WIC.
He added that non-profit organizations such as the Alliance for Period Supplies are “encouraging the government to create an increased budget for basic necessities that includes period products.”
Addressing period stigma, education
Ensuring that all people who menstruate can afford and have access to menstruation supplies is an incredible hurdle. Another is to end the stigma.
That can start in schools through education, making sure all public bathrooms offer free period products and talking about periods openly every day, advocates say.
The Alliance for Period Supplies and others, for example, are advocating for legislation to ensure that menstrual products are “in every (public school) bathroom, regardless of gender, and that these bills are funded,” she said Gaines, and pointed out that less. the income schools that struggle the most with these budgets.
“Menstrual education is also a good way to break the stigma,” she added. “Having everyone in the conversation, and not just one gender over the other, (to make sure) we all understand how a body works, how menstruation works and how to take care of your body in a healthy and safe way” .
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Nonprofits are also pushing for legislation to make period products free in all restrooms in public buildings, as well as in detention facilities, such as the Menstrual Equity for All Act introduced by the Rep. Grace Meng, DN.Y., last year. This federal legislation has not yet been passed.
Education and policy change go hand in hand with the allied ship, Abdul noted.
“This is not something that should be on the shoulders of menstruating people. This is not something that should be on the shoulders of women. This should not be on the shoulders of people who are … the most marginalized,” Abdul said. .
“We need to put in place better education so that these people who are not menstruating, not menstruating, (including) men like me, can learn more about it,” he added. “Regardless of whether you menstruate or not, it’s important for you to be a part of this movement.”
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Pereda added that there is hope for a future where period poverty is eradicated, pointing to greater action, policy proposals and more open debates about menstruation around the world.
“We are bringing attention to this problem and ending period poverty for good,” he said. “The more we talk about (menstruation equity), we’re really seeing that shift in culture.”