Period Poverty Pre-Pandemic and Now

There is increased public awareness around the need for improved access to period hygiene products for menstruating populations around the world. Period Poverty impacts millions of people and has been especially serious for school aged children. One study shows that students in the United States face considerable barriers in accessing menstrual hygiene products. The data, drawn by Harris Insights & Analytics from 1,000 teens ages 13 to 19, suggests that while economic barriers are significant, cultural and structural obstacles are also largely to blame. Lack of access is evident across various demographic groups, with effects that include risk of infection, emotional anxiety, and logistical challenges that present significant short and long-term repercussion. According to a 2019 research report from Obstetrics & Gynecology, nearly two-thirds of low-income women in the U.S. couldn’t afford menstrual products such as tampons and pads – and this was before the coronavirus hit, which is now overburdening food pantries, schools, shelters and other places that often serve as sources for feminine care.

Over the years a movement has risen to bring awareness to Period Poverty along with it’s short and long term affects. Organizations have stepped up to make free period hygiene products available in toilet facilities , schools and other public places. Among them are organizations such as the Organic period product maker, TOP the organic project, launches ‘Tampons for All’ initiative to provide free and easy access to period products in response to massive shortages – company vows to ‘get through this period, by helping girls with theirs’.

Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, shortages of items such as toilet paper, paper towels, and other essential items such as period products started flying off the shelves. For those who haven’t transitioned to reusable period products, this is adding to period insecurity, especially for those recently laid off or with a lower income, leaving some without access to basic products like tampons and pads.

TOP the organic project (TOP), a women-owned period product company that makes eco-friendly and sustainably sourced, 100% certified-organic cotton period products, has launched an initiative called, ‘Tampons for All.’ The sole goal of this initiative is to put tampons and pads directly in the hands of those that need them most. This begins with a large-scale donation of over 110,000 period products, which will help roughly 8,000 women and girls, to some of the country’s cities most heavily impacted by COVID-19. In partnership with the nonprofit PERIOD Inc., TOP is shipping the products to PERIOD for distribution among some of the areas with the strongest need, including the West Coast, Florida, New York, Boston, Portland and others. 

“There’s so much happening in the world right now that we can’t control, so we’re choosing to focus on what we can,” explains Denielle Finkelstein, cofounder and president at TOP. “Pandemic or not, our periods aren’t stopping, and people don’t realize the expense associated with a woman’s period. We can’t solve all the problems, but we can help alleviate a little burden for some. A key part of our purpose is focused on giving back and supporting those that need it most – this was fundamental when we started our business – and these women need us now more than ever. We have a moral obligation to help – and keep helping as we all navigate through these uncertain times.”

“This need is urgent for so many menstruators right now,” adds Nadya Okamoto, who cofounded the organization turned movement at the age of 16 and efforts have already exceeded 1 million period products donated to girls and women in need. “We are not slowing down, and if anything are revamping our efforts to fight for access to menstrual hygiene for all people with periods — both in our service distribution and policy advocacy work. And we’re excited to partner with TOP to get products to people who need them!” 

Want to Get Involved?

Feminine care is a category that typically does not get donated in “normal” times, even though it is a basic need for women. The TOP team was made aware from multiple non-profit organizations about the struggle to purchase product to fulfill the immediate need. In addition to the Period Inc. donation, TOP has made 750,000 tampons and pads available at via a bulk sponsorship that people can purchase at cost, then designate where they’d like their donation to go. People are finding all types of ways to lend a hand and support, from neighbors to strangers. Sponsoring a box will supply 65 women ($300 for 1,200 organic pads) or 120 women ($260 for 1,900 organic tampons) with a month worth of product. Many local food banks, shelters, churches, hospitals and other organizations across the country are in desperate need of period products.

To date, the company has already donated 130,000 period products in the past to women and girls, and with each purchase in general, the company continually donates products to schools, shelters, nonprofits and organizations dedicated to helping women who need it most. 

“Tampons and pads are not luxury items, but a necessity,” added Thyme Sullivan, cofounder and CEO at TOP. “Our purpose is to make better products accessible to all women and now more than ever we need to take care of each other.”

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