The lack of access to period products, due to economic factors, is often referred to as “period poverty” (which is, in point of actual fact, a "thing" in the United States in 2019), and it impacts girls and women around the world. It can be especially damaging at puberty, when school interactions are crucial to a girl's development.
Did you know?
Nearly 1 in 5 American girls have missed school due to lack of period protection.
Almost 25 million women live below the poverty line in the U.S., yet menstrual products are not covered by food stamps (SNAP) or Medicaid.
35 states in the U.S. have a tax on period solutions products because they are considered “non-essential goods”.
At least one Wyoming school's nursing office reports spending 75% of their annual budget on tampons and pads for girls who attend school there.
Wyoming is one of the 35 states that taxes feminine hygiene products (along with diapers and adult diapers, but that is for another post on caregiving). State statute only exempts "purchases of food for domestic home consumption." And, clearly, tampons and pads don't fit into that description.
BUT THEY SHOULD!
Because girls are, indeed, missing school, private efforts have gotten underway Wyoming to address so-called "period poverty" to ensure that girls in school have access to the products they need to be successful. Localized examples abound: Religious institutions have installed new cabinets and stocked them with tampons and pads and notes that invite girls and women to "take what you need" in the hopes that those without sufficient resources will take them to their sisters, daughters, mothers, aunties, and friends; food cupboards have started stocking period products; public health offices have begun investigating how to participate; and we're focusing on the Legislature.
Let's work to change the statute.
The absence of an acknowledgement of these goods as ESSENTIAL reminds us that State Statute was written BY and FOR men. We want to see language that recognizes the essential humanity of WOMEN incorporated into statute. What better place to start than to say the word PERIOD on the floor of one (or both!) of the chambers and then enshrine that in state statute.
Join us as we work to change these conditions in our state. Ask your local elected to support an amendment to Wyoming State Statute §39-15-105(vi)(E).
And, in the meantime, feel free to sign this petition requesting action from the US Department of Education. Not another girl should miss another day of her education for something as simple as this.