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Why Periods Are Political: The Fight For Menstrual Equity

In this photograph taken on February 3, 2017, a Nepalese woman prepares to sleep in a Chhaupadi hut during her menstruation period. The practice of banishing menstruating women from the home — barred from touching food, religious icons, cattle and men — was officially banned a decade ago.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It’s hard to fight for a cause if it can’t be discussed above a whisper. But a growing number of activists are speaking out loud in favor of what’s being called menstrual equity.

On any given day, more than 800 million girls and women around the world are menstruating. And for many of them, in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s a problem — sometimes with life-or-death consequences.

Poor girls and women often are unable to afford menstrual products and many have limited access to toilets or clean water. In some cultures, females on their period are forced to live apart from their families. In July a menstruating teenager in Nepal died from a snakebite in the cowshed where she was sequestered.

In the U.S. a movement is gaining steam to eliminate the sales tax for tampons and pads and to ensure period products are provided in public schools, homeless shelters and prisons — all part of the fight for menstrual equity.


Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, A lawyer and vice president for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School; author of “Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity”

Cory Booker, U.S. senator, New Jersey (D); former mayor of Newark

Marni Sommer, Associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; executive director of Grow and Know, a non-profit that develops puberty books for girls and boys in poor countries

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