Period poverty is a public health crisis central to the fight for reproductive freedom.
At USOW, we are working with many partners in the menstrual health movement, including The Flow Initiative, a national organization committed to ending period poverty and achieving menstrual equity.
Defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education (including but not limited to menstrual hygiene products, washing facilities, and waste management), period poverty currently impacts an estimated 16.9 million people who menstruate in the United States. Period poverty creates barriers to menstruating individuals having complete autonomy to decide what is best for their own bodies, livelihood, and futures.
Period poverty particularly affects students, low-income individuals, trans people, and the unhoused, who may face greater challenges in accessing essential menstrual health products and quality menstrual health education. It is crucial that we address the gaps in our healthcare system by removing cost and cultural barriers to menstrual products.
In addition, many people who menstruate experience period stigma, or discrimination about their periods, making it difficult to talk openly about menstruation due to fear of being shamed. The combination of misinformation, gaps in quality menstrual health education, and lack of access to period products causes people who menstruate to miss out on school, work, and other important events. Creating a culture that normalizes menstruation is an essential step in ensuring everyone has access to the resources they need to manage their periods.
1 in 5
A recent survey by U by Kotex reported that one in five girls* has missed school due to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products. (source)
2 in 5
people with periods
A recent survey by U by Kotex reported that more than two in five people with periods say they have struggled to purchase period products due to lack of income at some point in their life. (source)
35% and 36%
A recent survey by U by Kotex reported Black and Hispanic people who menstruate are 35 and 36% more likely, respectively, to agree they’ve struggled to afford period products in the past year. (source)
* We acknowledge that this survey is limited to girls and is not inclusive of nonbinary, gender non-conforming people, and trans boys and men who menstruate
Ending Period Poverty in Your Community: Lessons Learned from ‘Project Local Access’ is a toolkit from the USOW and The Flow Initiative to learn how you can partner with local libraries and other shared spaces to provide menstrual products for your community.