Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics, or Any of “2020: Dystopian Year”

Updated: Jun 24

By Catherine Zhang and Josh Inyang

From a deadly respiratory virus, to mass unemployment, unstoppable wildfires around the world, presidential impeachment, the postponement of the Olympics, missiles firing in Iran, and unchecked police brutality leading to global protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, this has been a hell of a year. And it’s only June.

Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics

For people experiencing period poverty, the pandemic, in particular, has made a monthly hardship worse. When supermarket shelves were cleared by panic-buyers, it became harder for those already struggling to access and afford menstrual products.

And periods seldom come when it’s easy or convenient.

For the now unemployed person who has to decide between buying food or a box of tampons, to the homeless woman who has chosen to improvise by using newspapers and paper towels instead, period poverty is targeting the most vulnerable during the most difficult time.

Can you imagine having to pick between getting a meal for you and your child or purchasing menstrual products? Unfortunately, this is the sad reality for many Americans who battle period poverty.

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty has many aspects; fundamentally it is not being able to afford or have access to menstrual products, menstrual hygiene education, washing facilities, and menstrual waste management. Lack of access to any or all these functions counts as period poverty. It strips away the dignity and self-respect of the people who struggle to achieve adequate menstrual hygiene.

Addressing Inequality

If 2020 is teaching us anything, it is that people have immense power to address injustices in American society. We get that it takes time, and that there are a lot of injustices that need to be addressed.

But we have seen the strength of our unity against the most unfair social inequalities, and seriously, deciding whether your last few dollars will be spent on a meal or a handful of tampons is an unethical reality nobody should be faced with.

For the next few months, uterUS is working with a team of passionate young people and non-profit organizations around the country to highlight period poverty and to amplify the stories of people struggling to access period products.

Join the Cause

We'll have ways for you to help, including information about organizations, and donation options.

You know the drill: Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, sign up on our site to receive updates on our groups working to end period poverty. Check in to learn about period poverty, and share with as many people as you can.

In a Dystopian world, big changes can be made by those who are paying attention.

About the Authors:

Catherine Zhang attended college in Jackson, MS, where she saw the urgency and need for equitable access to healthcare in the country. There, not only did she start an initiative which provided free health screenings for underprivileged communities and hispanic migrant communities, she has also fought to improve sexual health through screening and access to health resources. With uterUS, she is researching health policies in different states and collaborating with non-profit organizations to improve access of people to period products. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public health at the University of Pennsylvania.

Josh Inyang, a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University who studied Public Health with an emphasis in health administration chose to spend his summer researching period poverty. Josh is a natural leader: he was voted president of his fraternity, as well as president of the governing Greek council during his last year at NIU. Josh is no stranger for advocating for the less fortunate: he has accumulated over 150 documented community service hours his senior year. With uterUS, Josh will be focusing on period poverty, a topic that is extraordinary among men his age. Josh is highly enthused in the uplift of others, and has become dedicated to the period poverty movement.

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