Anyone who’s had a period knows what it’s like to realize you’ve used your last pad or tampon. Imagine that feeling multiplied by every day of every period for the foreseeable future. This is the reality millions of people with periods face across the world because they don’t have access to or can’t afford menstrual products. Frankly, that reality sucks. However, you can help by supporting organizations that donate menstrual products to people with periods who need them.
Lack of access to affordable menstrual products is a global problem. In the United States, 26.4 million people can’t afford menstrual products. Across the world, an estimated 100 million young people lack access to adequate menstrual products. Without access to these products, many students miss school or drop out entirely during their period. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in 10 students miss school during their period. In India, one in four students don’t come to school when they’re menstruating. Having a period shouldn’t have to cost a student their education.
There are a few reasons we likely don’t hear enough about this problem. One of them is period stigma and the idea that something half the population experiences is taboo. Another is the notion that periods are a “female problem” and theirs alone to worry about. This ignores the existence of transgender men (who may have periods) and transgender women (who may not) as well as nonbinary people. Menstrual health should be important to everyone because it implies everyone having access to basic toiletries and sanitary goods.
You can help provide people with periods the menstrual products they need by supporting places already doing the work. Here are 10 organizations dedicated to menstrual health you can help.
"I started taking time off school because I didn’t know what was going on with my body." https://t.co/L4C0gcaMuo— BBC Radio 4 (@BBCRadio4) March 17, 2017
Tina Leslie started Freedom4Girls to send menstrual products to people who needed them in Kenya, but she recently learned she didn’t have to look far from home to find people in need of menstrual products. Students in Britain, one of the most developed countries in the world, are skipping school when they’re on their period because they can’t afford menstrual products. Leslie knew there was an underlying problem given the significant increase in people using food banks across the UK. As Leslie tells Broadly, “If you can't afford food, you're not going to be able to afford expensive sanitary products.” You can donate the GoFundMe campaign for Freedom4Girls here.
Conscious Period has a buy one, give one model for their tampons. For every box you buy, they donate a box of pads to a person in the US who is homeless and needs menstrual products. They also have "Not a Luxury" t-shirts made in partnership with Faircloth + Supply, a company whose proceeds help provide access to education for girls in Nepal. Check out Conscious Period products here or sign up for their subscription service to get menstrual products for you and someone in need.
Cora is an organic tampon company that uses a portion of their monthly revenue to provide sustainable period management to people in India in need. Their business model focuses on helping support the economic infrastructure of the places they donate to in India and empower people with periods through employment and education opportunities. Sign up for your monthly subscription of Cora here. (You get a free trial when you sign up for the first time!)
4Days for Girls
Days for Girls is an international nonprofit working to provide people with periods across the world "ready feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene and health education by 2022." Through access to menstrual products and education, they are also working to address global issues like gender inequality, clean water and sanitation, and quality education. Get involved with Days for Girls through their volunteer programs or donate to help empower communities around the world.
5A Woman's Worth Inc.
A Woman's Worth Inc. is an nonprofit organization that helps provide menstruation hygiene management solutions to people who lack them. They have several ongoing programs addressing different communities who need better access to menstrual products like the Prison Project, providing fundamental necessities to people with periods behind bars. Check out A Woman's Worth Inc.'s needs list and where to mail menstrual goods here. You can also donate here to help contribute to their multiple programs.
#TheHomelessPeriod is a campaign started in the UK to make sure homeless shelters have menstrual products readily available. Their petition to help the homeless on their period gained enough signatures to be raised in parliament. You can get involved by starting a crowdfunding page or fundraising project in your area using the name #TheHomelessPeriod. When you tag them, they'll help promote your campaign, and in effect, signal boosting people around the globe working to provide access to menstrual products.
7Support the Girls
Support the Girls is nonprofit whose mission says it best: People shouldn’t have to choose between feeding themselves and their personal health. They help provide bras and menstrual products to homeless people across NOrth America. You can donate money here to Support the Girls or you can find more information on where to send bras and menstrual products here.
#HappyPeriod is a foundation that believes no one should go without proper menstrual care. They are helping homeless people get menstrual products as well as helping eliminate the stigma surrounding menstruation. You can get involved with #HappyPeriod here and make a donation here.
Pads4Girls was started by Lunapads, a Canadian company. Since 2000, Pads4Girls has helped provide access to education and support menstrual and reproductive health in the Global South. You can support their mission with their buy one, give one model using One4Her. You can also donate here.
10Your Local Homeless & Domestic Violence Shelters
Do a quick Google search or check out this directory of homeless shelters to find places in your neighborhood that need menstrual products. Like Tina Leslie of Freedom4Girls learned, you don't always need to look as far as you think to find someone in need.