Equal Period: Menstruation Should Not Equate Privilege

Ending period poverty through education and community involvement

Photo of Rachel Hill
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417-576-2502 Missouri: Republic (65738) Incase I did the format wrong: 526 W Logan St, Republic, MO 65738

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

1 in 4 women struggle to afford menstrual products due to a lack of income. A city-wide study conducted on period poverty in St. Louis, Missouri found that 46% of the women had to choose between period products and a meal. A lack of period products leads teens to stay home from school and adults to use rags or paper towels to last through the day. Menstrual hygiene is not a luxury, but a women's right.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Period poverty has been gaining national attention. With that said, there has yet to be a perfect solution. Traditional menstrual products today are single-use and have to be replenished. That is why we provide women with reusable products. We sew and distribute what I like to call "period packs." Each pack contains everything a woman needs for a cycle. We include three-day pads, two-night pads, and two pantyliners. We work with each individual women to specialize the pack for them. My top priority is meeting the needs of the individual woman and ensuring they're comfortable. I work to educate each woman I interact with about how to use and clean the pads. I also work to educate my community about period poverty. I have given speeches to my community members and am currently working with my university to provide the products to a new demographic. I am working on developing a course that could be taught to women in my community on a larger scale. I am from southwest Missouri and our sex education is not as progressive as larger cities. Teens are left to navigate the world on their own and would benefit from a second sex education course later on in the academic career.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I attended the Missouri Public Affairs Academy the summer of my junior year. One of the team members briefly mentioned that a large percentage of women in our area could not afford menstrual products. At first, I was dumbfounded but that quickly turned to rage. My group quickly steered the conversation in another direction, but I desperately wanted to learn more. I did not understand how we as a community could let that this happen and why I seemed to be the only one outraged. That day changed my view on life. Before, I envied the girls with the trendiest shoes and the newest iPhones because they had something my parents could not afford. I thought they were more privileged than me. I did not realize that I too, was privileged. I have never had to worry about not having a menstrual product and I will never take that for granted again.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Tabitha saw my presentation on my reusable pads at school. She pulled me aside and asked me if I could make a period pack for her. I worked with her to assess her personal needs and designed a pack that would work best for her. I went to the store got the blue fabric she wanted and made the pack that day. I was able to give her information on how to use the pads and ensure they will last her many years. She followed up with me a few months later as she realized that she wanted a few more night pads. I was able to make them and send them to her within a week.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Other organizations working to end period poverty prioritize having a small impact on a large scale. We function differently and prioritize having a large impact on a single community and then branch outwards as we develop. Instead of using single-use products, we use reusable pads that last for many years. This is sustainable for the user and the environment. We also plan to keep spreading our demographic. We want to partner with domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, public schools grades 6-12, and universities.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far we have been able to help almost 20 women. We have plans to continue the growth of this number. I have had several women reach out to me afterward and talk about how easy the products are to use. I get feedback from the women we help to improve the experience for women in the future. We have been able to lead numerous conversations with men and women in our community. Periods are stigmatized in our society. We are breaking the barrier one conversation at a time.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the next year, we want to be able to provide menstrual products to girls in grades 6-12 receiving food to take home on the weekend. We are also growing our partnership with Missouri State's bear pantry for college students in need. I want to expand the type of products we use to include menstrual cups. We want to develop a website to spread our reach. With the website, I want to develop a program where I send people the fabric and pattern to make the pads. They would then sew and mail the pads back to me. In the next 5 years, I want to have an online store where I sell reusable pads and the proceeds go towards making pads for women in need. This would allow people to make choices that are environmentally friendly and help those in need.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations less than $100

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Project Imagine

Rachel - great job! We do similar work on period poverty in Kenya and its crazy how women and girls across the world still struggle to get what they need. We love that you are working with domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters and schools. Especially the shelters. We look forward to learning more. One thing we have learned is that measuring impact every year will help with planning and fundraising. Another resource is period movement - they are doing great work on tampon tax and have chapters in each state - they may be able to offer support. Good luck!

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