By Lucia Denmeade, WGC Student Intern
It is estimated that 500 million people who menstruate worldwide experience what is known as “period poverty.”
This is a lack of access to menstrual products and education and it is a growing problem globally and in the United States. According to a survey of low-income women in large cities, almost two-thirds of women in the U.S. have had to choose between buying food or menstrual products at some point in their life. Period-products are not covered by government assistance programs like SNAP, and are also taxed heavily, in some states at the highest tax rate.
Maryland has made many efforts to reduce period poverty, including the exemption of feminine hygiene products from sales tax requirements. At the Maryland General Assembly, a bill to provide free menstrual products in public schools was passed last spring (see HB0205).
There is still a real need in Maryland, despite the efforts that have been made, to ease period poverty in the state.
Menstrual health is more than just physical; it includes mental and social well-being. Women who have to find alternatives to safe menstrual products, and young girls who don’t have access to these products while in school do not have the positive environment to support their menstrual health, as defined by the Global Menstrual Collective.
The issue of a lack of period products weighs most heavily on school-age girls and working women, who may struggle at school and work during their period. A lack of feminine hygiene products available to women and girls in these situations means that time is taken away from their education and career and put towards running around trying to find adequate products. It creates shame and impacts both their physical and mental health.
Through our year-long feminine hygiene product drive, the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County aims to ease the effects of period poverty in Howard County to help women and girls succeed without being set back by their period.
Learn more and donate here