Decorated with smiley-face drawings and phrases like “Be Brave,” brown paper bags were filled with menstrual products in celebration of National Period Day and donated to Lazarus House Ministries on Saturday, October 19. The packaging event was organized by La Luna, a club that aims to deconstruct the stigma surrounding menstruation by normalizing dialogue and confronting the inaccessibility of period products, according to Co-President of the club Sarah Wang ’22.
Sponsored by an Abbot Grant, La Luna made these period packages to donate to Lazarus House Ministries, a Lawrence-based charity that works to support homeless individuals and families by providing them food, clothing, and work training.
“For the event, it was just kind of to let people know that period poverty is an issue. Period products are still not considered a daily necessity. There are people who lack these products and who are in need but can’t afford them — a lot of the times because there is a pink tax. This is absurd. Period products are considered luxury products [in some states], when things like Viagra or condoms do not have this tax,” said Wang.
Although the products were able to be sorted and packaged in time, attendee Katherine Bell ’22 believes that future period poverty awareness events could benefit from an increase in the number of engaged participants.
“I think it would be better if more people would be able to pitch in… For the decorating, there was only 3 people including myself… I think people are aware of [problems surrounding period poverty], but they’re not yet coming to take action yet. Having more of these would help familiarize people with these events and what the club is doing,” said Bell.
According to Kiran Ramratnam ’22, Co-President of La Luna, the club will use events like the National Period Day packaging to talk to people about inclusivity in the period poverty awareness movement and to provide their peers with a sex education program.
Ramratnam said, “We’re working on education. In the [U.S.], only 13 states require medically-accurate sex education. Personally, I didn’t have any sex education until the 8th grade. No education about puberty or whatsoever. Something specific I’m talking about is menstrual cups and how little information is given about menstural cups in sex education. We’re thinking of hosting a forum about them this term.”
The club is also working to raise awareness of conditions for menstruating people across the globe. In developing countries, people use rags, dirt, and leaves to manage their menstruation cycle, according to Lunette.com. In the United States, one in five American girls have left school early because products are not freely offered in public restrooms, according to The Always Confidence and Puberty Wave VI Survey. The club is working to make period products more accessible at Andover.
“We’re working on extending menstrual products that are stocked in bathrooms on campus, and we’re working on stocking more all-gender bathrooms with menstrual products who need them… Last year, one of our projects was redoing all the posters next to menstrual products. My [Junior] year, campus had these old posters. They were so old they said ‘Isham Infirmary.’ They didn’t even have [Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center] on them. We re-did those posters to have more inclusive and up-to-date language,” said Ramratnam.
In the future, Wang hopes people will consider a more inclusive vocabulary when discussing periods and period poverty.
“Even when people refer to tampons or pads, a lot of people still say ‘Feminine hygiene products,’ when really it’s just menstrual products. Even in bathrooms you still see signs that say, ‘Don’t flush feminine products down the toilet.’ The thing is I also didn’t know at first menstruation could occur to transgender people, but I think for other people it’s the same way. It’s just about educating other people, so they can become aware of these types of issues. That’s the main thing we want to do for people on campus and off campus as well,” said Wang.