Menstruation is a normal and healthy bodily function for half the global population of a certain age, and yet menstruating individuals suffer from burden, stigma and hardship as 40% of people with periods say they struggle to purchase products. For the nearly 1/5 of the American teenagers who live in poverty, the lack of menstrual products and support can lead to lost educational opportunity. In addition, menstrual necessities are not covered by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), or other welfare programs, and are rarely available at food pantries.(Data from a 2021 U by Kotex survey conducted with YouGov and Alliance for Period Supplies, NJ Period Poverty Fact Sheet 2021, and news reports). One in five teens say they struggle to afford period products, or are unable to purchase them at all, according to a national study. As a consequence, 84 percent say they’ve missed school, or know somebody who else who has.
NCJW is committed to menstrual equity. In August 2023, we started a project to distribute menstrual products to meet the needs of middle and high school students in our community throughout the school year.. Access to period products is an issue of gender equity, health equity and education equity. Students who don't menstruate have access to everything they need for health and hygiene in their school bathrooms - toilet paper, soap, running water, and paper towels or dryers, while menstruators are expected to carry products with them. We work with six middle and high schools in Missouri and provide them with pads and tampons as needed.