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Op-Ed: Ending Period Poverty

Joelle Stubbs is studying Global Studies and Communications at the University of Minnesota.

Periods are expensive. If you’ve had one, you understand that period products are not optional to use. As someone who has had periods for the last 13 years, I decided to do the math. By my estimations, I found out that my periods have cost my family and I over $2,000 on period products alone. I am fortunate that I did not have to worry about where or how I to get protection every month. But for many people who have periods, this is not the case.

Period poverty impacts people internationally who don’t have access to period products, hygienic materials, and/or who face stigma attached to periods in many countries today. Access to period products and adequate hygiene are crucial in order for women and girls to succeed. When you don’t have to worry about where you are going to get products for your next period, you can focus on education, career, family, hobbies, and more.

We need to end period stigma and also either lower the price on period products, eliminate the pink tax that many states in the U.S. still have — marking up the prices of consumer goods directed to women and girls — and/or make the products free.

The first step is to start the conversation about periods in general. In many countries around the world periods are considered taboo, dirty, and only a “woman’s” problem. By having educated conversations with others, starting with other women and then men, we can start the conversation of how to address period poverty.