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Inaugural National Period Day calls for menstrual equity

The price of getting a period in America

Non-profit organization PERIOD launched the inaugural Period Day Saturday to call for menstrual equity. The organization held rallies in every U.S. state to discuss period poverty and demand that menstrual products become more accessible.  

Menstrual product company Always found in a study that one in five girls in the U.S. have left school early or missed a day of class because they did not have access to period products. 

In January, Reuters found that nearly two-thirds of low-income women in St. Louis could not afford menstrual hygiene products, including tampons or pads. Nearly half of the survey group said there are many times they cannot afford both food and period products at the same time. Many resort to using cloth, rags, diapers or other forms of paper products instead. 

PERIOD said in a social media video that some women resort to using cardboard as well. 

"If you think it's uncomfortable to talk about period poverty, imagine the people with cardboard in their underwear," says a woman in the video with what appears to be blood coming out of her nose. "If faces were bleeding, someone would do something." 

Thirty-five states have not deemed period products as essential items, subjecting menstrual products to a sales tax that many refer to as the "pink tax." If the products were classified as hygiene products — as Rogaine and Viagra are — they would be eligible to be tax-free. PERIOD seeks to eliminate the pink tax as well as make products free and available in schools, shelters and prisons. 

Organization founder and executive director Nadya Okamoto tweeted that PERIOD held 60 rallies in 50 states and four countries. 

Presidential candidates, including Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker, posted on social media in support of menstrual equity. 

In March, Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act, which would require Medicaid to cover the cost of menstrual hygiene products and mandate that employers with 100 or more employees and all federal buildings provide free menstrual hygiene products. It would also make period products more accessible at schools, shelters and prisons. The bill currently has 78 sponsors. 

"No woman should have to choose between buying food for her family or buying menstrual hygiene products." Meng tweeted Friday: "Period products never were – and are not ever – a luxury item. #periodpoverty is real and is wrong."

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