Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Spring 2019 - 32

M e d i c a l r e c o r d f e at u r e

Youth Volunteer Corps Group
Advocates for Menstrual Equity

S

tudents in a leadership group at Southern Middle School in
Reading have launched a project to advocate for menstrual
equity for their peers. The all-girl group, part of Youth
Volunteer Corps of Reading, is on a mission to improve their
school's bathroom culture as well as their access to feminine hygiene
products. These middle school girls, along with many others across
the nation, see access to menstrual hygiene products in school as a
right, not a privilege. They note, "We are not asked to bring our own
toilet paper to school or pay the nurse for some when we need it.
We should have the same kind of access to pads." These girls want
change and are working in conjunction with their Youth Volunteer
Corps program to shed light on the problem.
The concept of menstrual equity, or equal access to feminine
hygiene products especially for those in low-income schools,
women's shelters, and prisons, is an increasing topic of interest in our
country. Currently, there are national law and policy organizations
dedicated to fighting for menstrual equity, organizations committed
to ensuring that menstrual products are affordable, safe and available
to those in need. According to the advocacy group Alliance for Period
Supplies, 1 in 4 females in the past year has struggled to purchase
menstrual products due to lack of income. Many women and girls
in our country are unable to access the basic products required to
manage their menstrual health.
The importance of menstrual equity is understood globally. There
are many studies that have tied limited access to menstrual products
to a decline in school performance for girls in low- to middleincome countries. A recent study in the United Kingdom1, where
menstrual inequity was linked to a decline in school attendance and
productivity, demonstrates that this phenomenon extends across the
globe.
In the US, policy makers are beginning to take this issue more
seriously. Some states and cities have already proposed or passed
legislation to ensure that menstrual products are readily available

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Spring 2019

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