“Period poverty” is a term used to describe the lack of access that females have to menstrual hygiene products. On January 18, 2022, The Policy Project held a “Utah Period Project Student Ambassador” event in Salt Lake City. More than 60 private and public schools had representatives at this meeting. The purpose of this student-ambassador roundtable discussion was to talk about the “period poverty” that surrounds students with periods in schools everywhere, to teach important leadership skills, and for the students to learn how to advocate for issues that are affecting them. The Utah Period Project is putting in the effort to get menstrual hygiene products in every public and charter school in the state by reaching out to the state government.
The Utah Period Project’s mission statement says, “This is the Period Project; to increase the ability of women, girls, and all who menstruate to live life fully, without interruption in necessary activities like school and work – by increasing access to free and safe period products.” Basic period products are needed in schools, they are needed as much as toilet paper.
There are many students who would rather just stay home than deal with their period at school. This is an issue that is generally overlooked. “Menstruation is an involuntary monthly physical occurrence for every female that disrupts school and all activity if unmanaged,” says the Utah Period Project. Without access to the menstrual hygiene products needed, health problems, embarrassment, and school or extracurricular attendance can all become obstacles. According to the Utah Period Project, 7 out of 10 students who menstruate are missing school due to a lack of menstrual products. This can be because of financial issues, shame, or just overall feeling uncomfortable.
Emma Fullmer, a Copper Hills High School student who attended the student ambassador roundtable discussion says, “You can’t always know when your period will start. If you’re at school without a pad or tampon when it does, it can cause problems. Not only do you have to miss part of class, but you have to make the “walk of shame” to the office to call someone to bring you stuff. Wouldn’t it be much easier (and less embarrassing) if you could simply go to the bathroom instead, knowing there would be pads and tampons available?” Getting period products in school’s restrooms can help relieve the anxiety that menstruating students face when they don’t have access to a pad or a tampon.
There are some simple ways to help the Utah Period Project reach its goal. Writing a letter to your congresspeople is one of the easiest ways to be of service. This will help them know that this issue is important to students. One of the biggest things is to start eliminating the stigma and shame that surrounds periods. Yes, at times it can be uncomfortable to talk about, but realizing that it’s a natural thing can be the first step. Becoming open and willing to step up are such small steps that can have a large impact.
Supporting the Utah Period Project and helping get period products accessible to students can improve everyday school life. To someone who has a period, being on it at school can just add to their stress. Making the issue known can help in many ways: less shame or embarrassment, financially, and school attendance. For more information or ideas on how you can help, visit The Period Project’s site at:https://www.hinckley.utah.edu/calendar/2022/1/29/periodproject