top of page

Period Poverty: Why Including Free Products in Schools is Essential

Updated: Mar 25

Currently, more than half of the United States taxes menstrual products as a luxury item. These hygiene products are not considered essential, and most states use that reasoning as justification for taxation.


Unfortunately, menstruation is stigmatized in our society. When the topic is brought up, people often feel sickened by it or embarrassed to talk about it, instead of viewing it as a normal process that many women go through.


Period poverty is defined as the lack of access to menstrual hygiene due to economic factors. The average woman pays $144 per year on pads and tampons alone, not including sales tax. Women use these products for a significant portion of their lives, and most women deem it necessary as they are needed for everyday activities such as attending school.


In a study taken in Nov. 2017 called “The Always Confidence and Puberty Wave VI Study,” it was revealed that one in five girls in the United States have missed school entirely or left school early because they did not have access to menstrual products. There should be increased efforts to provide feminine hygiene products in public schools for free.


When one in five girls miss school due to a lack of menstrual products, school productivity is seriously harmed. With the provision of free menstrual products in public school bathrooms, girls can effectively learn and function during school without fearing an accident during class. They don’t need to risk falling behind on lessons or receiving worse grades if they have access to feminine hygiene products.


In low-income communities, this can also become an incentive for more girls to come to school, as they have menstrual products being provided to them free of cost.


According to a study conducted by FreeTheTampons.org, 86% of women between the ages of 18 and 54 claim to have started their period in public suddenly and did not have any menstrual products with them. Seventy-nine percent of women responded to this incident by making a makeshift pad out of toilet paper or something else, 62% went to the store immediately to buy supplies, and 34% went home to get supplies.


However, the latter two options are not feasible for school-aged girls. Most high school students do not have their licenses or access to a car to drive home during school hours, so they cannot buy supplies or go home to obtain supplies. Instead, they are subjected to making a “pad” at school out of toilet paper, which carries a considerable risk of leakage and is ineffective. Not having menstrual products available can also be a problem if girls do not have menstrual products at home or cannot afford to buy them.


By requiring female hygiene products to be made available for free at public schools, state governments can reduce period poverty and work to end the stigma of menstruation.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


Mah, Jeanne. “Ladies, Here’s How Much Your Period Costs You Over Your Lifetime.” Dollars and Sense, 27 June 2019, dollarsandsense.sg/ladies-heres-much-period-costs-lifetime


“Murphy’s Law of Menstruation.” Free The Tampons


“Nearly 1 in 5 American Girls Have Missed School Due to Lack of Period Protection: Always® Joins Forces with Gina Rodriguez & Feeding America® to Help #EndPeriodPoverty and Keep Girls in School.” Business Wire, 7 Aug. 2018, www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180807005135/en/Nearly-1-in-5-American-Girls-Have-Missed-School-Due-to-Lack-of-Period-Protection1-Always%C2%AE-Joins-Forces-with-Gina-Rodriguez-Feeding-America%C2%AE-to-Help-EndPeriodPoverty-and-Keep-Girls-in-School

Comments


bottom of page