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October theme reveal: Period Equity

October is just around the corner, which means it’s time for our October theme reveal! In October we’re focusing on period equity. Every menstruator deserves convenient access to period products that meet their needs, regardless of their financial situation, gender, physical abilities, geographic location, religion, etc. Access for all means access for ALL.

But how do we get there? 

What are some ways people have begun making menstrual care products more accessible?

Here are just a handful of measures that can or already are improving period equity and accessibility: 

Flat lay image with three body scubbers that have Braille on the packaging on an orange background with bubbles floating above the scrubbers.

Image Credit: Cleanlogic

Cleanlogic sells exfoliators, but their mission is a great model for how menstrual care companies can improve accessibility to period products for the blind and visually impaired. The founder of Cleanlogic’s parent company IMS, Issac Shapiro’s mother is blind and inspired by her, he began the organization “Brands for Braille” and Cleanlogic includes braille on all their product’s packaging. By taking this step, people who are blind or visually impaired are able to be more independent and read product packaging for themselves. 

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Period underwear is a highly accessible option for menstrual care. It can be easier for people with a variety of disabilities to use and period underwear or reusable pads can be a great option for autistic menstruators or other menstruators that struggle with the sensory aspects of traditional disposable products or insertable period care products. Period underwear is less bulky than disposable pads often are, simple to pull on and off, soft, and generally feel very similar to normal underwear meaning that there is less of a difference in user experience, sensation, and routine. Period underwear is also a great sustainable alternative to reusable insertable care products for those whose religious beliefs prevent them from using insertable options. (For more information on Autism and menstruation check out @_ellawillis ‘s post on Instagram.)

Image credit: Poppy Photography PNW

For accessible pricing, we love The Period Company. They offer reusable period underwear and pads that are comfy, sustainable, and non-toxic but at roughly half the cost of most of the other popular period underwear brands. You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to have access to the best period care products for you and your body. This is why we’re so excited to be caring The Period Company’s underwear in our shop!

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"Mensturation Hubs" are a movement we’re super excited about. These hubs are safe spaces where everyone can access period care products for free. No More Secrets: Mind Body Spirit Inc. already has one menstrual hub called The SPOT in Philadelphia and is currently running a Go Fund Me to help open another. No More Secrets also offers delivery services to help those who may have trouble getting to their hubs. While they don’t have hubs exactly like those No More Secrets is building, Period.org, Days for Girls, Dignity Period, Freedom4Girls, and many other organizations also help distribute free menstrual care products and provide health education in the U.S. and in other areas across the globe. Some menstrual product companies also participate in buy one give one program that help improve access to menstrual care products through partnerships with non-profits like those above. Lunette, Ruby Cup, and Pixie Cup are just a few menstrual cup brands that participate in such programs. 

Image credit: WaterAid/Prashanth Vishwananthan

We need to update menstrual health education to be more comprehensive and inclusive. Many menstruators with various physical disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, and menstruators who don’t identify as female, find alarming gaps in the menstrual health education they receive or are able to access. Currently, menstrual health education, including education around how to care for your body during your period, is tailored for cis-gendered females who are able-bodied. Education presents one experience of menstruation as “the” experience and that means that many menstruators are unprepared for what menstruation may actually be like for them and don’t have the tools or knowledge they need to take care of themselves during their period in a way that works for them. You can read more about gaps in menstrual health education and what some organizations and individuals are doing about it here.

There is so much more to period equity than what’s included in this list. That’s why we’re excited to dive into even more conversations about accessibility and equity in the field of menstrual health next month. So keep an eye out for more conversations on period equity and some incredible stories in next week’s issue of The Flow.

Is there a topic related to period equity you’d like to see us talk about? Let us know in the comments below!

Blog post by Briana Ryan:

Briana is a Master’s of Human Rights student who fills her spare time with writing, reading, yoga, and family time (including, of course, lots of cuddles and playtime with her surprisingly spritely senior dog). In the past, Briana has put her skills to work volunteering with and working for Days for Girls International--an organization devoted to advancing menstrual equity. Although it has taken some time to unpack her own shame around menstruation, Briana now loves chatting about all things menstrual and reproductive health and jumps at any opportunity to get involved with organizations and businesses that empower menstruators.

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