Put an end to ‘period poverty’
Menstrual products should be free in schools, shelters, prisons
YOUTH WHO MENSTRUATE across Massachusetts are outraged by the current period poverty crisis. Period poverty is a new term coined for a longstanding issue: the inequitable cost of menstrual products. Many youth struggling with menstrual inequity are forced to resort to unsanitary options, ration, or use their products for an unsafe duration of time. These factors render individuals susceptible to a variety of physical and mental consequences.
To address this inequity, the Massachusetts Legislature must pass the I Am bill (S1445/H2354), an expansive measure that would ensure free access to period products in public schools, shelters, prisons, and jails.
Period poverty has detrimental effects on education. According to Mass NOW’s 2019 State of Menstrual Access Survey, over 56 percent percent of nurses reported students leaving class to obtain period products. According to a report by Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1 in 5 menstruators reported missing school altogether to address their menstrual needs.We highly value our academic work and the opportunities it will provide us in the future. A lack of essential items should not inhibit our right to an equitable education; all individuals should be given an equal opportunity to succeed. Thus, the passage of the I Am bill is of the utmost importance, as it will empower youth menstruators across the Commonwealth.
Hannah Kara Schwichtenberg is a sophomore at Natick High School and the co-founder, with Ames Hwang, a senior at Wayland High School, of Youth For Period Equity.