Spotlight on Youth on the First Annual National Period Day

If I could scream the importance of this topic it from my rooftop I would, except:
1) I’m 26 weeks pregnant so I am period-free for the next, oh, three months or so.
2) I’m pregnant and climbing onto the roof has been declared a Dangerous activity by my OB so I’ve ceased. For now.

National Period Day exists to bring awareness and support to the one in four people who have skipped school, work, or other important events because they did not have adequate sanitary napkins, tampons, etc. This is called period poverty, the lack of access to sanitary products. How could someone not access them, you ask? If you’ve never had to buy them you don’t realize how expensive they are. And if you’re homeless or have limited storage, you can’t buy a big ol’ box of twenty because you can’t store what you don’t absolutely need.

If this is all very foreign to you, even if you have the reproductive parts that require sanitary products on a regular basis, then buckle up because the following might surprise might:

STATS:
– 35 states in the US have a mandatory “tampon tax”, a special sales tax on “non-essential goods”. (Meanwhile products typically for people who identify as male, such as Viagara and Rogaine, are exempt from sales tax in those same 35 states.) This tax has created an annual revenue of $20 million in California alone, so periods are considered a revenue source instead of a biological function. Read that again. My menstrual cycle, and those of half of the country’s population, is considered a source of income for the government.
UNICEF reports: “Schools often lack the supplies and sanitation facilities girls need for managing their periods. Girls without adequate health care may feel discomfort or pain. Shame, stigma, and misinformation may discourage girls from attending school while menstruating and prevent schools from teaching healthy attitudes about menstruation. Many girls stay home to avoid being teased.”
Women in prisons must pay for sanitary products from their commissary funds, and many women aren’t permitted to earn funds or work after they committed certain kinds of infractions while in prison. Some women in prison don’t have support from people outside prison who can deposit money into their commissary fund for them. Women who are jailed on a Friday won’t have access to medical support until traditional business hours begin on Monday, thereby forcing her to sit in her own biological waste all weekend.

So what’s this doing on a blog about teenagers and young adults? Simple. Their some of the most vocal activists doing the the work to end these practices.

Nadya Okamoto was a teenager struggling to exist in the world with a single part and younger siblings, while at the same time learning about her body’s emerging functions and abilities. She took her struggle outside of her own self and created PERIOD, the largest youth-run non-profit in the area of women’s health. Check out the video below.

Nadya’s mother taught Nadya and her sisters to be strong in the face of adversity – in her case, an abusive husband – and Nadya took that to heart. PERIOD is an incredible example of youth taking charge on an issue that is important not only to them, but to the community they love and exist within.

Nadya Okamoto and Vincent Forand co-founded PERIOD as high school students in 2014 after realizing that menstrual products are not readily available to those who need them the most. PERIOD is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a nationwide network of over 400 chapters serving local communities.

– “Our Team” on PERIOD.org

Nadya and her team of driven, social justice activists encourage groups to form chapters in their communities to educate others about the stigma and lack of resources surrounding the topic. You or your business can support PERIOD by donating funds, hosting advocacy events, or partnering/sponsoring the non-profit.

Check out Nadya’s book here.

Young people see problems and want to fix them. Support them in their efforts and see how much they can change the world.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.