In conjunction with the first annual National Period Day on October 19th, Dartmouth Planned Parenthood Generation Action and Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund are joining forces with PERIOD to host a panel discussion focused on the issue of period poverty, which is commonly defined as the inability of menstruators to access sanitary products due to financial obstacles. The event, which will take place on Wednesday, October 16th from 6 PM to 8 PM at Dartmouth College, will highlight both successes and continued challenges in improving the availability of menstrual products and eliminating period poverty and period stigma in New Hampshire, the broader United States, and around the world.
The panelists, each representing different dimensions of the menstrual policy debate, will address different challenges inherent in this issue and plans for action to help improve menstrual product access. Panelists will also discuss the process by which local elected officials, academic researchers, and activists were able to collaborate and ensure the passage of SB142, which provides sanitary products to middle and high school students in New Hampshire’s public schools.
This event is part of a broader campaign run by PERIOD, a national organization that aims to address period poverty and other menstruation-related issues in the United States and around the world. PERIOD is launching their first annual National Period Day campaign this year, which will feature rallies in all 50 states, action programs aimed at providing sanitary products to women, and other consciousness-building events such as panels and discussion sessions. The goal of this event and this campaign is to raise awareness about period poverty and promote actionable solutions to this issue, while drawing attention to the ways in which many people struggle to access menstrual products every month.
This burden falls especially heavily on lower-income menstruators, people experiencing homelessness, and students who rely on their schools’ often-insufficient menstrual product resources. The “tampon tax,” a sales tax levied on sanitary products in many states throughout the U.S., furthers such inequality and limits access. Additionally, the issue of period poverty is certainly not a “women’s issue” and should not be labeled as such – transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who menstruate face unique obstacles towards obtaining menstrual products, such as not being able to readily access menstrual products in public restrooms or facing social barriers that impede their ability to purchase these products.
This event is important to me, to Planned Parenthood, to members of Dartmouth’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and to other college students because period poverty and period stigma are vital issues that are often misunderstood and ignored. Menstruators are taught to spend a significant amount of money, time, and resources in order to conceal and “manage” our menstrual cycles, which can take a financial and emotional toll. This issue is largely kept out of the public eye and policy debate due to menstrual stigma, as people who menstruate are conditioned to be ashamed of this natural bodily process.
Furthermore, since our predominantly-male legislators are often hesitant to approach the subject, meaningful progress on menstruation-related issues rarely takes place. However, this panel is a sign that this generation of menstrual activists knows that it is time to take a stand for menstrual equality, build upon the positive work that has begun in New Hampshire with SB142, and continue to ensure access to sanitary products for all menstruators across the country and the world. Period.