Despite their successes, these young women have faced some difficulties, particularly when it comes to some people still seeing menstruation as taboo.
“[Some] older women are uncomfortable with the word ‘period,’ and wish we would use polite euphemisms like ’the particulars of a woman,’ or “‘that special time,’ or even ‘menstruation,’ says Breanna.
Although Anisha had the support of her friends and family, she hesitated putting herself out there at first.
“I feared being labeled ‘the period girl’ in my social circles, especially because I knew there was a lot of stigma surrounding menstruation, women’s health, and period poverty,” she says.
This has taught Anisha not to worry about what others think because the taboo of menstruation makes it harder to fight against period poverty.
With all the experiences these girls have gone through, what do they have to say to other girls who want to help their community, particularly with period poverty?
“If you want to do something for your community,” says Brooke. “then go ahead and do it, because it will really benefit other people.”
Sophie says it is alright to start small, and to find someone who can guide you.”
“Consider finding a mentor,” she says.”If they can help you get into the right mind frame to do this kind of work. Work on establishing a team, establishing partnerships — they can possibly direct you to new ones.”
Breanna says a little effort is all that is needed.
“Even if you’re posting a social media post,” she says. “Or talking to other people about it, and seeing what you guys can do as a community. Us girls just need to come together and solve period poverty.”
How to Help:
Once you have the idea and the gumption, you too can help people gain access to menstrual products. There are a few practicalities you’ll need to consider when starting a period poverty organization. Anisha says the best way to get started is through social media.
“Create a brand that goes along with your group or organization,” she says. “Pick a title, pick an Instagram handle, have channels of communications that people can use to reach you.”
As your work grows, you might consider turning your efforts into a 501c3 charitable organization.
“I would say the real benefit from that is the tax exemption which will reach larger donors,” Sophie says, explaining some larger donors would lose interest because they would not receive tax exemptions. “We really didn’t want to miss out on those opportunities, so we thought it would be in the best interest for Cycle Forward to seek that status.”
However, establishing a nonprofit is not a must to help combat period poverty. Even running a drive at school or partnering with a local food pantry is a way to get started, Sophie says.