SPRINGFIELD, PA – May 31, 2022 – Senators Tim Kearney (D-Delaware/Chester), Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware), and state Rep. Gina H Curry (D-Delaware), in partnership with The Foundation for Delaware County on Thursday, hosted a community discussion on Understanding the Impact of Period Poverty— And How You Can Help.
The virtual event featured four speakers, including Senator Cappelletti and Rep. Curry, and focused on raising awareness about the topic and identifying ways lawmakers and the greater community can assist in helping to address the public health issue.
Offering opening remarks, Senator Kearney highlighted the need for the discussion. “There is so much stigma surrounding openly talking about menstrual cycles and equity,” said Senator Kearney. “I recognize that people within my district are impacted by period poverty that’s why Rep. Curry and I are currently having a Feminine Hygiene Products Donation Drive to support local women and girls. Education and action are synonymous with change, and I hope we can start to look for ways to help others experiencing period poverty after this discussion concludes.”
Senator Cappelletti, who serves as co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus and is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 602, legislation that would require schools and public agencies to make menstrual hygiene products available at no cost reiterated Kearney’s sentiment. “Menstrual inequity is a rarely discussed issue that affects roughly 25% of women and menstruating people – particularly low-income individuals – and must prioritize their basic needs on a month-by-month basis,” stated Senator Cappelletti. “By having this discussion today, we can normalize this conversation and hopefully move towards comprehensive and effective change.”
According to the American Medical Women’s Association, period poverty refers to inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education and can impact women, girls, transgender, and nonbinary people. Those affected can experience physical, emotional, educational, and economic impacts as a result of their inability to easily access menstrual products.
Serving as the discussion moderator and event speaker, Rep. Curry presented questions about period poverty to Christine Joy Brunson, Executive Director of Purple House Project PA, Inc., and Nhakia Outland, Founder and Executive Director of Prevention Meets Fashion. Both Brunson and Outland’s respective nonprofits have programming initiatives that focus on raising awareness about period poverty.
“Not having access to menstrual products negatively impacts the dignity of a person,” said Brunson. “You have individuals who experience period poverty for dozens of reasons, including domestic violence and financial abuse. Menstrual products should be accessible and affordable.”
On average, women in the United States spend close to $15 on menstrual hygiene products per month. In 30 states, these products are subject to a state sales tax and for menstruating individuals in low-income households, those experiencing homelessness, or other financial barriers, paying for these products create obstacles.
Outland pointed out that these obstacles are not always financial for all individuals. “When we talk about period poverty, often we do so in a way that isolates certain individuals,” said Outland. “We have to be inclusive of the transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming communities when we have these discussions about menstruation. This means being intentional and conscious of our language when talking about menstrual products.”
Rounding out the discussion, the speakers outlined ways legislators and the broader community could help to address period poverty. Suggestions included more community collaboration, research, and educational advocacy on the topic, paying attention to how we depict menstruators, and sharing resources.
“We have to have education surrounding the use of the product as well,” said Rep. Curry. “We can’t just leave people with items if they don’t know how to use them. Lack of education also creates inequity. As a co-sponsor of House Bill 1954, I want our school-aged menstruators to have free access to these products while in school and have the confidence to be able to use them.”
“The programs of The Foundation for Delaware County work with individuals and families every day who are struggling to access and afford menstruation products. This community discussion, and especially the testimonies from the speakers, highlight how important it is to ensure that period supplies are readily available in pantries, shelters, schools, social service agencies, and legislators’ offices so that all menstruating people have access to supplies they may need,” said Katie Kenyon, Community Engagement Director for The Foundation for Delaware County. “The foundation is grateful to the speakers, Senator Kearney, Senator Cappelletti, and Representative Curry, for illuminating the need, the partnerships, and the policy opportunities around period poverty.”
To view the entire webinar visit, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFPbAUfhB8djfYt4ZgvFY1w.