First National Period Day rally mobilizes Gen Z to take on period stigma, tampon tax

By Anjali Krishna, Coppell High School

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DALLAS – Youth activists bested the Texas heat at Dallas City Hall for the first National Period Day rally to end the stigma surrounding periods and petition to end the luxury tax on menstrual products.

“It’s absurd that tampons, pads and other menstrual products are considered luxuries in the U.S. Menstrual products are a right and everyone who menstruates should have easy access to them,” Nikita Ragam, event outreach organizer and Marcus High School senior, said. “Why are we still so ashamed that we menstruate?”

The event organizers hoped to raise awareness for what they consider an “invisible issue” through this rally. Protestors wore red to destigmatize periods and open up the conversation around menstruation.

“The fact is that the subject is so taboo that the issue is nearly unnoticed. Nearly half of the world menstruates. Either you menstruate or you know someone who menstruates,” PERIOD Denton president Mari Austin said.

One of the many nonprofits attending the rally was Hope Supply Company, a group dedicated to meeting the critical needs of homeless and at-risk children by providing basic necessities. As a part of the Alliance for Period Supplies, the group is linked to Cotex, who conducted a survey regarding menstruation products.

“Many nonprofits listed feminine hygiene products on their wish lists but only 6% of respondents said they had ever donated period supplies to homeless shelters. Three times as many said that they had donated other toiletries. When we don’t talk about periods, issues like this come up,” director of programs at Hope Supply Company Kelly McKinnon said. “For many of the people who utilize our services toilet paper rolls function as pads. That’s what period poverty is.”

Representatives from organizations such as Girls in STEM and Let her Learn were present at the rally, focusing on encouraging girls to move forward in STEM fields and removing barriers against girl’s education.

“Having their period is the number one reason girls don’t go to school around the world. One in five girls don’t go to school because of their lack of access to period products,” Shivani Goloapudi, co-founder of Let her Learn and Frisco Independence High School senior, said. “We need this tax to be removed to set a standard. Girls need to get an education and by removing the tax and stigma surrounding periods we can eventually work towards fixing the much larger issue of the gender gap. We have to address the issue of the gender gap at its roots and the stigma around periods is one of them.”

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on October 20, 2019.