Period poverty affects girls and women nationwide. Here's what to know.

By Stacey Leasca
January 23, 2019
Chatiyanon/Getty Images

Somehow, in the year 2019, 35 states in the United States still have a tax on period products such as pads and tampons because they're considered “non-essential goods.” Besides the added cost on menstrual products, a lot of girls and young women can't afford the menstrual necessities in the first place.

Across the nation, women and girls experience what is known as “period poverty,” when they cannot afford period products or don't have access to them. This is a problem that THINX Inc, the company behind THINX period-proof underwear, the nonprofit PERIOD, and women’s rights advocates believe is high time we find a solution for. And they are attempting to do just that with a new petition calling for free period products for girls in sixth grade through college.

“Students in the U.S. have enough to worry about already,” Maria Molland, CEO of THINX Inc, said in a statement. “Whether or not they have access to menstrual products should not be an additional concern. Imagine if students were responsible for bringing their own toilet paper to school. That would be ridiculous, but so is not providing tampons and pads for those who have periods.”
 
In the video highlighting the campaign, Nadya Okamoto, founder of PERIOD, noted that while states still have a hefty tax on period products, male-targetted products like Rogaine and Viagra are not taxed. That added cost could be the difference between a young girl going about her day normally and hygienically and a young girl missing out on school and other activities because of her lack of access to period products.

To change this, PERIOD and THINX sent Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education, a letter outlining why the Department of Education should take immediate action to research and address the issue of period poverty in schools. To date, more than 11,000 people have signed a petition to Sec. DeVos asking her to take action.
 
“THINX is proud to work with local PERIOD activists and students across the country in support of their campaigns to make sure public schools—from grade school to university level—provide free and easily accessible period products,” Molland said. Okamoto echoed those statements adding, “This work about providing period products in school restrooms is a significant step in our fight to ensure that menstrual hygiene is respected as a right and not treated as a privilege. A natural need like menstruation should never post an obstacle to one achieving their full potential, and that includes students.”
 
Read up on the campaign and sign the petition here.