Make Period Products an Essential Item

Make Period Products an Essential Item

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Did you know that period products are considered a luxury in the state of Maryland? This means that impoverished families cannot use state safety-net financial aid to purchase menstrual supplies, such as pads and tampons.

We will send this petition to the Maryland State House, to convince them to allow period products to be purchased with safety-net funds.

Given that half of the population has a period, many people have dealt with menstruation. Most menstruators spend around one week every month -- for around 40 years -- having their periods. Unfortunately, period poverty is also a fact for many.

Period products are very expensive. They can range anywhere from about $150 per year to more than $7,000 per year, including the purchase of optimal pain relief supplies. This is particularly detrimental to lower income and impoverished people and their families. These purchases can take a large chunk from a small paycheck.

Period poverty refers to the inadequate availability of feminine hygiene products due to a lack of sufficient income. Families with either a lower income or unemployment can get safety-net financial support from the government, which allows them to purchase essential items for themselves and their families.

However, menstrual products are NOT classified as essential by the state of Maryland, and therefore cannot be bought with financial support funds. This is outrageous considering the fact that an overwhelming 88% of women agree that period products are vital. We believe all people deserve to have access to these essential supplies.

Scarce access to supplies is linked to usage of substitutes, like toilet paper or socks, as well as stretching product use. Consequences from limited accessibility include physical health risks, social and psychological effects, missed opportunities and events, and for students in particular, educational fallout. People in our community struggle to overcome these obstacles while others may not even be aware of this growing issue. 20% of economically challenged women and girls report missing school or work due to lack of menstrual supplies.

Although these effects may seem extreme, they are very real.

1 in 4 women have difficulty affording menstrual products, such as pads or tampons, which are absolute necessities when handling your period. 

44% of students in the Baltimore County Public School System live in extreme poverty. 

As a result, many people are left to prioritize the purchase of menstrual supplies, on top of having to eat regularly, feed their families, and pay rent and bills.

And periods don't stop for a pandemic.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of unemployed people has skyrocketed, but the same cannot be said about the incoming period product donations. Many more people who have periods don't have access to basic and necessary menstrual supplies.

NO ONE should be declined basic essentials for a part of life that so many of us experience.

The government-run Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law at the end of March, act helps millions of Americans buy essential products during COVID-19. The federal government finally declared period products as necessities under the CARES Act, meaning Americans can now use the money they put aside in tax-advantaged health savings account to buy whatever products they may need -- at least until the pandemic is over. 

That legislation does not mean that period products are now covered as essential items for all people. Not only will the CARES Act expire after the pandemic, but it does not address the separate issue of this petition, which is to allow menstrual products to be purchased with safety-net funds from the State of Maryland.

If you agree that period products are essential products and not luxuries, please sign this petition. You can also help us to raise awareness by sharing this link. Please contact us via email at chloeadiller@gmail.com with questions or concerns.

Sources:

- https://medium.com/s/bloody-hell/how-much-does-a-period-cost-anyway6a2263828ae3#:~:text=Assuming%20you%20buy%20one%20every,shipping%2C%20taxes%2C%20or%20waddling

- https://www.allianceforperiodsupplies.org/

- https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/cares-act-covid-19-menstrual-products-fsa-hsa/

- https://www.studentsupportnetwork.org/

- ontherag.com