• Adele Finney

The Effects of Feminine Hygiene Costs

Remember the time when you had your first period. You probably went to the bathroom, realized what was happening, and then freaked out. You may have cried to your mom and watched your dad speed away and say that they had to go "get something" awkwardly. Luckily, your mom assured you that "you’re a woman now" and "everything's going to be okay." Still, it doesn't feel like it’s going to be okay. Why do you feel gross? Should you feel ashamed? What are you going to do when you go back to school? Reimagine that situation, but instead of using a tampon or pad, you have to use a rag or skip school and stay at home with your only pair of pants, because feminine products are not in your family's budget. Sadly, this is the reality for more girls than you think. This struggle is also known as period poverty, or the inability to afford products such as pads, tampons, or linings to manage menstrual bleeding. According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, up to 500 million menstruators are living each month in period poverty. Because of this, 1 in 5 girls end up missing school due to the lack of menstrual products, according to the University of Michigan Public Health Department. Without access to tampons or pads, menstruators must resort to using rags, paper towels, toilet paper, or cardboard, which can increase the risk of infections. The reason why period poverty is so prevalent today is because of the enormous cost of period products, including the pink tax, and the shortage of feminine hygiene product materials. In many states, the government offers no financial assistance for menstrual products, which leads people to choose between groceries for the week, or a box of tampons, as stated by the University of Michigan Public Health Department. No one should ever feel guilty over taking care of their body and personal hygiene, which is why period poverty needs to be addressed. This can start by government officials taking off any sort of luxury tax on feminine hygiene products, or even making them free. Items like toilet paper and soap are provided freely in public restrooms, which begs the question: why aren't period products? All three things are a necessity to hygiene, so all three should be provided freely in public spaces. Furthermore, period products need to be included in financial assistance programs like food stamps and SNAPS. By creating these changes, every woman or menstruator can go through that time of the month without worry or self-inflicting pain because of their lack of hygiene products. However, the assistance does not have to just be in the law, it can also happen in your community. In the upcoming months, the Peace and Justice Club will be hosting a feminine hygiene product drive and will be donating all the products to local diaper banks and shelters for women in need. You can also spread awareness throughout your community and educate yourself on women’s health issues. Help women and girls stay healthy and happy by donating to prevent anyone from experiencing unnecessary pain during their cycle.