Menstruating is a basic fact of human existence. Period products are necessities, not luxuries, and should be treated as such. Nearly 22 million menstruators in the US cannot afford menstrual products, a phenomenon known as period poverty. Even more people struggle to access products when they need them. The fight to end this lack of accessibility is known as the fight towards menstrual equity.
The culture of shame that surrounds periods and reproductive health is changing – thanks to so many dedicated activists, advocates, organizations, researchers, reporters and forward-thinking businesses. Here are just a few of the organizations pushing for progress and making a difference for menstrual equity.
The Pad project began as a documentary film but has since grown into an organization with international impact. They partner with local organizations and grassroots NGOs to fund the placement of pad machines, implement washable pad programs, and run menstrual hygiene management workshops in communities around the world. They work with their partners to tailor each program to the specific menstrual health needs of each community. The Pad Project's goal is to ensure that every menstruator can attend school, with access to period products and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights education.
As the grassroots arm of the women’s movement, the National Organization for Women is dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women’s rights, and is the largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States. NOW has hundreds of chapters and hundreds of thousands of members and activists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since their founding in 1966, NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
URGE envisions a liberated world where we can live with justice, love freely, express our gender and sexuality, and define and create families of our choosing. To achieve their vision of liberation, URGE builds power and sustains a young people’s movement for reproductive justice by centering the leadership of young people of color who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary, and people of low income. As a state-driven national organization, URGE organizes their communities, provides a political home for young people, advocates for meaningful policy change, and shifts culture, working in states where the challenges and opportunities are greatest.
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national/state partnership designed to amplify and lift up the voices of Black women leaders at the national and state levels in their ongoing fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women and girls. Their organization partners with eight Black women’s Reproductive Justice organizations – Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, the Afiya Center and Women With a Vision – to educate and mobilize Black women, femmes and girls on issues such as abortion access, contraceptive equity and comprehensive sexuality education. As a Reproductive Justice entity, they approach these issues from a human rights perspective, incorporating the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity with the situational impacts of economics, politics, and culture that make up the lived experiences of Black women in America.
The Cycle strives to improve gender equality through the provision of water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) services and menstrual education programs. Working in partnership with nature is the backbone to their practice. They facilitate access to eco-toilets, clean water, and sustainable period products. They create community through education programs, teaching hygiene training and gender-inclusive menstrual, sexual, and reproductive health in communities where periods traditionally face taboos.
The Alliance for Period Supplies is a national organization working to increase access to period products. The organization is comprised of independent nonprofit organizations that collect, store, and distribute period supplies to local communities. They work with 120+ period supply banks and provides supplies for over 420,000 cycles every year. Supporters can get involved by hosting product drives or fundraisers, or volunteering with local supply programs.