• The Red SEA

January Periodical: Student Action, Legislation, and "Bloody Good Research"

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

At the close of the first month in a much awaited New Year, 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 January:

1. A UC Santa Cruz freshman, Amanda Safi, was motivated by stories of period poverty from her time in high school to start an initiative to get period products in the hands of those who desperately need them, especially during the economic echoes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to her efforts, San Mateo County legislators will vote in early February to award Amanda’s project $20,000 to put her project into action. Her work could be the beginning of stronger policy to protect menstruators from period poverty, and mirrors efforts of young students worldwide, united in their zeal to make a difference where they can.

2. Another student example is the Pachamama Project, started by Bristol University student Ella Lambert and classmate Oliwia Geisler. According to the University of Bristol’s independent student newspaper, before the pandemic, Ella had plans to volunteer at a refugee camp to provide critical services to residents. When her plans fell through, Ella strategized how she could still make a difference in their lives, and, inspired by her own experience growing up with excruciating period pains, she decided to take on period poverty in the camp. Together with her classmate and 150 volunteers, the Pachamama Project fabricated almost 2,500 reusable pads that they sent to refugee camps in Lebanon and Greece. “I think the rise of coronavirus definitely shone a light on the most vulnerable people in our society,” Ella told The Bristol City Sanctuary blog.

“I think the rise of coronavirus definitely shone a light on the most vulnerable people in our society,” Ella Lambert

3. Four states introduced new bills to require period products in schools: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and of course, our home state, Washington. The detail of the bills vary, for example through SB 5070 in Washington, all schools K-12 and higher education (including universities and technical colleges) would be required to provide free period products to their students, whereas Minnesota’s bill (SF239) only requires district or charter schools serving grades 7-12 to provide free disposable products in at least one bathroom on the premises.

As of January 29, 2021 Illinois’ House Bill was sponsored by Rep. Barbara Hernandez (D), Rep. Margaret Croke (D), and Rep. Katie Stuart (D), three champions of young people growing up in a world where opportunity is accessible to them. The bill is currently under review in the Rules Committee, where legislation is proofed before being introduced to the full house of representatives for the state. Maryland’s bill, sponsored by Delegate Kirill Reznik (D), is also awaiting its second reading. Minnesota’s bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Cwodowski (D), is currently undergoing review in the state’s Education Finance and Policy Committee. These bills’ methodical progress in their respective chambers will be something that The Red SEA will be watching intently as we drive policy in our home state of Washington. Knowing that all of these states are working towards resolutions for period poverty strengthens our own resolve by reminding us that we are not alone in being bold, vulnerable, and taking action.

4. Bloody Good Period published a study entitled “Bloody Good Research” to assess how periods affect menstruators in the workplace. The organization itself is a UK-based project started in 2016 by Gabby Edlin to increase access to menstrual products for underserved communities. In the new year, Bloody Good Period is launching their study to provide concrete metrics for how periods impact menstruators. One of the most striking statistics gathered from the study is that 89% of menstruators report having experienced anxiety in the workplace due to their period. The organization reminds us that they "don’t see these findings as particularly revelatory,” pointing out that the results merely put quantitative values to knowledge whispered in women’s bathrooms, or giggled over during the wee hours of a sleepover.

“I would feel better talking about this to colleagues who also have periods, but usually have a cis male line manager and cis male dominated team.” responded a white, non-binary individual between age 21-29.

The study comprehensively evaluates the current experiences of menstruators at work, as well as setting goals for human-centered approaches to improving workplaces for menstruators. Bloody Good Period's effort is one that we hope to see universalized so as to better serve menstruators in every circle of their lives.

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