Local students fight for free feminine products

High schoolers champion legislation that could impact female students in all Connecticut public schools

Amy+Barratt+and+Charlotte+Hallisey%2C+two+Greenwich+High+School+seniors%2C+hold+a+flier+to+spread+awareness+about+the+need+for+free+menstrual+hygiene+products+in+middle+and+high+school+bathrooms+in+Connecticut.++Courtesy+of+Matthew+Brown+Hearst+Connecticut+Media

Amy Barratt and Charlotte Hallisey, two Greenwich High School seniors, hold a flier to spread awareness about the need for free menstrual hygiene products in middle and high school bathrooms in Connecticut. Courtesy of Matthew Brown Hearst Connecticut Media

By Delaney Servick, Sacred Heart Greenwich

Greenwich High School seniors Amy Barratt and Charlotte Hallisey are working to reverse the effects of period poverty for young women across Connecticut. The two students are coordinating with Connecticut legislators to pass a bill granting free access to feminine hygiene products for all young women in Connecticut public schools from sixth to twelfth grade.  Within the Sacred Heart Greenwich community, sisters Stephanie Guza ’20 and Caroline Guza ’21 are also advocating to provide free feminine hygiene products to female students.

Charlotte, Senator Alex Bergstein, and Amy attend a period poverty awareness rally in New Haven, Connecticut. Courtesy of Charlotte Hallisey

Period poverty is a global issue that impacts women and girls who cannot afford safe, sanitary feminine hygiene products, according to actionaid.org.uk.  In the United States, thirty-four out of the fifty states enforce the pink tax, according to periodequity.org.  The pink tax refers to the extra amount of money women pay for certain hygiene products.  The heavy taxes on women’s menstrual products are making it harder for women to afford these materials, according to The New York Times.

Because the government considers feminine hygiene products to be luxury items, government-issued food stamps do not cover their cost, according to forbes.com. This  impacts female students affected by period poverty because they are more likely to miss school due to the lack of access to the materials that are needed, according to forbes.com.

Caroline, an advocate for raising awareness on the importance of eliminating period poverty, discussed the importance of providing female students with free hygiene materials.

“I just think that it’s necessary for girls to have access to this in their schools,” Caroline said.  “Especially since in public schools some of them might not have the accessibility to that in their homes. So I just feel that it is a necessity that girls should have that in their schools.”

Amy and Charlotte are making an effort to reduce the number of school days girls miss by creating a bill to provide middle and high school students in all Connecticut public schools free access to feminine hygiene products in their school bathrooms.  Their top priority is to give girls educational opportunities equal to those of their male peers and to create a more positive view regarding menstruation.

Amy believes the bill will help to eliminate the negativity associated with menstruation by explaining why these products should be in bathrooms and not in nurse’s offices.

Charlotte and Amy work to create a bill that will provide girls in Connecticut public schools with free feminine hygiene products.  Courtesy of Matthew Brown Hearst Connecticut Media

“It is really stigmatizing having pads and tampons just in the nurse’s office because you go to the nurse’s office when there is something wrong with you or you have an illness, but menstruation is not something that requires medical assistance because it is a natural bodily function,” Amy said.

Amy and Charlotte are working to propose their bill to the Connecticut legislation during the short session in February of 2020.  They are hopeful that their actions will inspire young women to campaign to pass similar bills in their states.

“This bill is about equality of opportunity and equality of education,” Charlotte said.  “It should not just be legislation in our town, it should be legislation that is passed in Connecticut.”

Staff writer Delaney Servick interviewed senior Stephanie Guza and junior Caroline Guza about period poverty, their thoughts on the pending legislation, and the need to provide young women with free access to feminine products.  

 

This story was originally published on King Street Chronicle on October 23, 2019.