Gianna Ehrenberg, Managing and Social Media Editor

Let’s talk about something that the world thinks is viewed as more of a feminist issue or just something that women should think about in the privacy of their own home, behind closed doors – a woman’s menstrual cycle. Half of the people in the world menstruate or have their period. Half the issue is actually addressing the problem, but we are going to change that right now by shedding light on the period crisis that girls around the world face.

Globally, 2.3 billion people live without basic sanitation services and in developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate handwashing facilities at home, according to UNICEF. Not being able to use these facilities makes it harder for women and young girls to manage their periods safely and with dignity. It’s also happening in our own backyard where a survey of low-income women in a large U.S. city finds that nearly two-thirds couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products such as tampons or pads.

Not having the proper sanitation products can also lead women to not reaching their full potential when they miss out on opportunities crucial to their growth, which includes school. 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle due to a lack of sanitary products. In the United Kingdom, seven percent of girls from low-income families reported missing school for the same reason. In the U.S, 1 out of 5 girls misses school during their monthly cycle.

Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper. They serve the same purpose; items to tend to our every day, normal bodily functions. Do you have to pay for each sheet of toilet paper you use in a public restroom?

This is a basic human need for women. So what can we do about it?  There are health and policy initiatives to treat menstrual hygiene products more like other basic public health and hygiene necessities, such as toilet paper. California and New York City already provide the products free in schools, and some states that impose a sales tax have exempted these products from the tax.

We need to use our voices. Speak to people in your community, principals, aldermen, senators, mayors. Start petitions. The best way to help tackle this issue in our own country and in other countries is to call awareness to it.

In order to help the future become female, it’s our job to do everything we can do keep young girls in school. Education is the greatest superpower anyone could have. We first have to educate young boys and girls about the menstrual cycle so that “period” isn’t thought of as a bad word. With knowing more about the menstrual cycle, the awareness of needing pads and tampons will grow. Educate yourself and others, and join the fight to providing girls all around the world fair access to period sanitation products so that females can stay in school.