Generation Action, Missouri State University’s daughter organization of Planned Parenthood, focuses on broad social justice issues. This semester, they are educating the public on period poverty.
Period poverty is when individuals are regularly unable to access menstrual products due to financial inability. This is an issue which has increasingly gained media attention due to the recent normalization of menstruation discussion.
This problem typically affects those with a low socioeconomic status, those who are homeless and those who lack the financial means to purchase period products.
Period poverty can affect many aspects of life such as health, education and employment.
Kaylynn Wake, sophomore sociology major and president of Generation Action, has witnessed the different experiences individuals dealing with period poverty encounter.
“For one person that I know who has been affected by period poverty, this looked like having to go to a youth shelter to get the period products she needed each month,” Wake said. “For other people, period poverty can look like using toilet paper, rags, socks and other materials in place of pads or tampons.”
Lack of access to proper hygiene products can cause major health and sanitation issues. The use of improper materials and the overwearing of pads and tampons is unsafe and can lead to health risks such as toxic shock syndrome.
Aside from the health issues, sophomore global studies major and vice president of Generation Action, Rachel Smith, explained how period poverty affects an individual’s everyday life.
“The impacts of period poverty are incredible,” Smith said. “It impacts the person having their period, it impacts the family they provide for or contribute to, it impacts their workplace, and their school. It is an issue of public health, gender equality, workplace development and so many other aspects. When people do not have access to basic hygiene products, it disrupts the entire system.”
When an individual lacks proper access to period products ,it makes it difficult to attend classes or make it in to work. For those already struggling financially, taking a few days off of work worsens the burden. And for those struggling in school, missing a week of classes could significantly affect their education.
“A person should not have to sacrifice access to their education because of a normal, healthy bodily function,” Wake said.
Generation Action has decided to lend a helping hand and get involved.
Generation Action organizes a campaign every semester called Raising Everyday Discussions. This campaign serves to educate and spread awareness about period poverty. The organization is hosting a month-long period product donation drive. These products are donated to institutions such as Rare Breed and Harmony House, advocacy groups supporting the homeless and survivors of domestic abuse.
Wake and Smith encourage everyone to locate a R.E.D. donation box and donate what you can. These donations are found in the Bill R. Foster and Family Recreation Center and Brick City. People can also make monetary donations which will allow Generation Action to purchase period products for donation. These monetary donations can be made via Venmo to Kaylynn-Wake.
More information and ways to get involved with Generation Action and the issue of period poverty visit Generation Action’s social media accounts.
Facebook-- MSU Generation Action / Planned Parenthood
Wake said she hopes to have Generation Action involved in both local and national campaigns in the future encouraging everyone to share the information of period poverty and contact their representatives.
“In the future, we hope to further our impact by writing letters about period poverty to our legislators,” Wake said.