38% of women can’t afford to menstruate

Help us make a difference in South Jersey

By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

38% of women cannot afford the products necessary to get through their monthly cycle, forcing them to miss school, work and socializing.

That statistic infuriates me!

Something as ordinary as a box of pads or tampons, having the power to determine a girl’s future, should not be a norm in America.

Check this out from a 2021 study conducted by U by Kotex®:

  • A quarter of Black (23%) and Latina (24%) people with periods strongly agree that they’ve struggled to afford period products in the past year
  • Nearly seven in ten (68%) people agree that period poverty is a public health issue
  • Only 4% of Americans are aware of a local resource where free or reduced cost period supplies are available

Stats vs. Real Life

Now that you know the stats, let’s talk about real life. “Not having access to menstrual products can disrupt lives through disruptions to their work, school and social lives,” says Jhumka Gupta, an associate professor in the department of global and community health at George Mason University. Her study found that one-third of low-income women are known to borrow menstrual products from others, use rags, toilet paper, socks or fabric as makeshift pads, or completely going without.

Some women end up using products longer than directed. Emily Bell McCormick is the founder of the nonprofit Policy Project whose mission is to end period poverty. She says that if women are actually able to get a tampon, “some will wear it for 12 hours” because of the high cost. That is way beyond the recommendation for use. The Food and Drug Administration advises changing a tampon every four to eight hours, with eight being the maximum for a single tampon. Too long, and a person is at risk for toxic shock syndrome.

Did you know that in many states, period products are taxed? Conversely, says McCormick, there is no tax on men’s hair growth products or Viagra. So as expensive as these products can be, adding tax can take them further out of reach.

But there is good news because the tide is slowly turning. Virginia, California, and Utah are among the states that have recently enacted legislation mandating all Local Education Agencies to provide free menstrual products in female restrooms. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have introduced legislation related to free menstrual products in schools.

Here’s How We Can Help

Want to help? The South Jersey nonprofit, Wheels of Change, helps families who are struggling financially and mothers fleeing domestic violence, according to spokesperson Monica Mallon. One of their services is providing period products to local women:

  • Monica will be collecting your donations of these products at our Sept 21 “It’s Everyone’s Birthday” Birthday Party. It will be a drop off point until 9:30pm, so even if you’re not coming to the party, you are welcome to bring your donations.
  • Monica offers several options if you can’t make it on Sept 21:
    • Mondays and Wednesdays are drop off days at Wheels of Change. Just email them and they will let you know if someone is there to accept your donation. Their storefront is at 112 S. Broadway, Gloucester City, NJ 08030
    • Email them for info on how to Venmo, PayPal or mail a check
    • Send donations to PO Box 62 Woodbury, NJ 08096

This is a situation that just should not be, and every one of us can help, whether it’s with a financial donation for those who can, or one box of pads with wings.

Virtual hugs!

Tobi's Signature

PS: Find our upcoming events at Franks & Beans Events. Join us for laughs and sisterhood on our closed women’s Facebook group, South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun. You DON’T have to live in South Jersey to join!