Saturday, October 9th is Period Action Day!

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Period Action Day is a global event that educates participants about the period poverty crisis that all menstruators face. Period Action Day provides opportunities to participate in keynote speaker presentations, period drive campaign workshops, and discussions on period poverty, intersectionality, and more. 

The event is organized by PERIOD, a non-profit organization that was founded by two high school students from Portland, Oregon in 2014. In the seven years since, their organization has grown into a global network of grassroots organizers, youth chapters, and more. In fact, we have a chapter at Punahou School! Throughout the month of October, on-campus clubs such as the Civic Engagement Club, Amnesty International Club, and more will be collaborating to educate Punahou community members about period poverty. 

We would love to get the Punahou community involved in the menstrual equity fight. However, many people do not know what the period poverty crisis is. Here is a quick rundown of the issue: period poverty is defined as a lack of access to affordable menstrual products and education. This inadequate access leads to increased social isolation, period stigma, and barriers that limit menstruators’ education. According to a 2014 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report, 1 in every 10 menstruating youth misses school during their cycle because they lack access to menstrual products and resources. 

Though many people believe that this problem is only faced by less economically developed countries, it is actually seen everywhere. In fact, according to a 2019 study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly two-thirds of low-income women in a large U.S. city could not afford menstrual hygiene products. One in five of these women had this problem every month. Additionally, of the 288,348 women and girls living in Hawaii in 2018, 1 in 8 of them fell below the Federal Poverty Line. The government needs to realize that period poverty affects millions of people every year.

What are the first steps to addressing this issue in Hawaii? 

First, Hawaii is one of the twenty-eight remaining states that tax period products, so we must pass legislation to eliminate the period supply tax. Second, we must provide menstruation products to public secondary school campuses in Hawaii for free. In May, the state of Washington passed a bipartisan bill requiring schools and universities to provide menstrual products to students. Last year, the state also signed a bill that removed sales tax from menstrual products. 

As April Berg, the representative that sponsored the bill, stated, “Poverty and period poverty go hand-in-glove. More than four in five students have missed class time, or know someone who has, because they didn’t have access to period products. This is holding students back in school, which affects their future. And we needed to do something to fix it.” 

This may seem overwhelming, so what is the first step you can take? Educate yourself! Spend this October partaking in Period Action Day 2021 activities and spreading awareness. 

If you would like to get more involved, join a few on campus clubs focusing on the issue or get in contact with me at jcambra-c[email protected]!