• The Red SEA

February Periodical: Worldwide, State, and Community Action

What a month! We’ve rounded up a few victories around the world in the fight against period poverty to share with you. Read along to find out how the period equity movement has made strides this February:

1. Two countries make bold leaps towards menstrual equity! New Zealand joins Scotland as the second country to approve free period products for all, and France approves free period products for students. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “Removing barriers to healthy, active, educational outcomes for children and young people is an important part of the Government's Youth and Wellbeing Strategy." DW Akademie reported that French President Emmanuel Macron informed the public that “women's dignity must be protected from what he termed an ‘invisible injustice’ that could no longer be tolerated.” According to NPR, Scotland’s trendsetting legislation to provide period products country-wide came two years after their move to make period products free in schools. We will be looking to France to see how they follow this pattern, and our own Washington State and national US government to see how their prioritization of menstrual health progresses.

2. Locally, Washington State’s House passed HB1273 91 to 7! Next, the Washington State Senate will read and vote on the bill before it goes to the Governor for signing. This is a tremendous testament to the power of grassroots organizing to change monolithic political moves. The house bill is one step closer to becoming a reality as a result of the work that the community, Washington for Menstrual Equity, and The Red SEA Collective have done in concert to demonstrate the need for period product access. Follow us and Washington for Menstrual Equity on Instagram to stay up-to-date and to participate in action to support the progress of this bill!

3. The research publication, Science Advances, published a new study about period synchronicity and the moon . The research concludes that in ancient times, when circadian rhythms were more closely followed, “human reproductive behavior was synchronous with the Moon but that our modern lifestyles have changed reproductive physiology and behavior.” The science suggests that phones, late night deadlines, and who knows what else have interrupted our flow.

4. The first ever “menstrual hub” to distribute period products free of charge to the community opened Philadelphia! No More Secrets is a Black-owned, woman-owned organization doing beautifully human, stigma free work to open The SPOT Period. Despite this radical success, we would like to recognize that the US government owes it to their citizens to stop forcing communities to cobble together funds to protect their own. Having access to period products should be a human right, as evidenced by New Zealand and France’s legal advances this month. Founder and CEO of the organization, Lynette Medley, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “when people want to help, you don’t mind when they say ‘Let me help you with food,’ but nobody wants to articulate that conversation about not having access to menstrual products.”

5. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appointed supermodel Natalia Vodianova as the UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador. Vodianova is an accomplished organizer for programs supporting women’s and disability services, and will be using her new role as Goodwill Ambassador to champion menstrual equity. This field is not new to Vodianova, who has organized “Let’s Talk” events worldwide to discuss and destigmatize periods and reproductive health over the past three years.

“Menstruation is a normal bodily function. As UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, I want to work to build a world where we no longer need to explain this,” Vodianova said in the UNFPA’s press release. We are excited to watch the potential of mainstream celebrity branding and international development work collaboration, and see what grows out of Natalia Vodianova’s work.

6. As a sweet, sweet bonus: go follow Malaka Gharib for delicious doodles and cartoons, including her writing for NPR on menstrual stigma, and this adorable, printable, portable zine on how you can combat period stigma.

Tune in this time next month for another monthly installment of period news!