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How Schools Can Help End Period Poverty

Kaitlyn Luckow


Imagine living in poverty and having to choose between feeding your family or buying feminine hygiene products.

This is a reality for more than 16.3 million women in living in the United States. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are 38% more likely to live in poverty than men, and women of color experience poverty at a much higher rate than white women.

Women and girls who are living in poverty often have to sacrifice buying menstrual products in order to help pay for other necessities. This is largely due to the high price of menstrual products and the fact that they are taxed as “luxury items”. However, menstrual products are just as necessary as food, water, shelter, and other hygiene-related products.

When women and girls are forced to not have access to menstrual products, they are forced to use toilet paper, socks, pieces of cloth, or anything that they have available. This not only is an attack on their dignity, but on their health as well.

There have been a number of social movements, bills, and projects that have been trying to erase Period Poverty in the United States. The most successful presence in ending period poverty has been within our schools.


How Schools Can Help  

Period Poverty can make girls who want to go to school unable to attend because they do not have the products to help them get through the day. This continues to perpetuate a lack of access to education and homelessness. As every child should have a right to an education, we need to make sure that every child is given the tools they need to attend school—this includes menstrual products.  

I was a high school teacher for five years and I saw first-hand how the lack of menstrual product availability affected my students. When students unexpectedly got their periods at school, not all of them could afford to buy tampons or pads from the dispensers in the bathroom. They would end up just going home because they were left with no other choice. I quickly added a drawer in my room full of menstrual products that my students could access whenever they needed them, but this is a school-wide, and country-wide issue.

Luckily, there are people out there making a difference in their schools, communities, and now even in the state legislature.

Schools and Teens Who Are Making A Difference

Going back to the school that I used to work at, Waukesha North High School in Wisconsin, we addressed the issue head-on. The girls’ club at the school led by Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Sarahi Monterrey, helped fundraise to buy menstrual products for the school. Now, every student can go to the health room and get free menstrual products when they need them.

Although school-wide efforts are a good start, further progress won’t be made until this issue is taken to the district, state, and even federal level.  

Caroline Dillon, a high school senior in New Hampshire, helped her state senator write Bill 142 to end period poverty. The bill would require all schools to provide free access to menstrual products for their students.  

This bill would make New Hampshire the fourth state in the United States to provide free period products to students. The other states that have already made menstrual products accessible to all include New York, Illinois, and California.  

Period Poverty is an issue that shouldn’t be putting women and girls in a position to have to give up their health, dignity, and education. It is possible to eliminate this issue all-together by implementing bills and procedures that would allow women and girls access to free menstrual products. This has to start in our schools to ensure that all girls have the right to an education.


Do you have any ideas on ways to end Period Poverty? Do you know of any awesome people who are making a difference? Let us know in the comments below or tell us about it over on our Facebook and Instagram.

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