Having period products in school restrooms, airports, workplaces and prisons should be the standard. The first step in advocating for menstrual equity on a large scale is to recognize that it is a basic human rights issue.
It is time for women to receive free access to the period products they deserve in public institutions across Texas.
In the 6th grade, moments before the bell rang for my first class, I got my first period. I sat alone in a bathroom stall with nothing but toilet paper in my hand and a distressed mind. I thought, “how am I going to go on with the rest of the day?”
At 12 years old, that was a traumatic experience to go through. Today, at 22 years old, I can't help but think that if there were period products available in that restroom that day, I wouldn't have had to go through that stressful encounter.
In her article for Cosmopolitan, Hannah Smothers said every period a woman has is traumatizing in its own way. However, “no period could ever come close to the terrifying experience of your very first period,” Smothers writes.
Menstruation, or having a period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs monthly. It starts between ages 11 and 14 and continues until menopause, according to Planned Parenthood.
My experience occurred when I lived in a developing country. I often ask myself why the United States, a developed country, has the same resources — or lack thereof — as a developing country when it comes to menstrual product access.
Specifically, why does the state of Texas have very limited resources for individuals who require menstrual products?
According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, menstrual equity is the “affordability, accessibility and safety of menstrual products.”
A report by Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters, a nonprofit organization, states that women deal with inadequate access to menstrual products every day, often while handling other difficult circumstances.
No one should have to choose between health and education or economic security and dignity, as many people with periods across the country are forced to do regularly.
Eliminating the “Tampon Tax” in Texas is a step toward menstrual equity, but it isn’t enough to ensure affordability in the long run.
Texas lawmakers have filed several bills that advocate for eliminating the tampon tax, but they seem to go “nowhere,” according to The Texas Tribune.
It's time to advocate for menstrual equity and find long-term solutions to this problem.
Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters states that it is only within the last few years that the menstrual equity movement has “really taken root,” and “advocates and lawmakers have spearheaded initiatives across the country to distribute menstrual products; to remove the ‘tampon tax,’ a tax some states impose on the purchase of menstrual products; and to make these products free in schools, shelters, workplaces, and correctional facilities.”
The distressing experiences of menstrual inequity I faced in Jordan, and still face in Texas, led me to create a menstrual organization on campus called PERIOD, which fights period poverty and stigma through service, education and advocacy.
We can all agree that sanitation is a human right. Imagine going to a bathroom in public and not finding toilet paper or hand soap. The same goes for period products.
Having period products on campus doesn't need to remain in the imagination. Follow us on Instagram @period.utarlington to stay updated.