WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In honor of Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28, Always, the leader in global menstrual care; International Paper, the leading global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products; Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Co-Founders of Women in Training, Inc. (WIT); and, Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, rallied together in Washington D.C. in support of Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act. The Act would ensure people have access to free period products in federal buildings and schools so that no one would have to miss out because of their period.
Period poverty is defined as a lack of access to period protection – and it affects millions of people around the world, even in the most economically developed countries. Here in the U.S., 1 in 5 girls have missed school due to the lack of access to period products1 – that is more than 3.5 million girls2.
Since the launch of Always’ #EndPeriodPoverty program in 2018, Always has donated more than 235 million period products to those in need around the world, including more than 75 million in the U.S. in partnership with Feeding America and other organizations. However, donations alone cannot resolve the systemic issue of period poverty. The stigma surrounding periods can prevent those affected from voicing their needs and prevents potential solutions from being widely discussed and implemented. To date, only 22 states have passed a law to provide free period products in some capacity. There is a need for national change to solve the issue of period poverty and if passed, Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act would help do just that across the U.S.
“People are often unaware the impact period poverty is having on so many individuals in their own communities and across the nation. Millions of people in the United States and around the world lack access to period products and are forced to forego educational or employment opportunities because of it,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “We cannot thrive as a society or economy without the full participation and education of women, girls, and people with periods in society. That is why I am proud to reintroduce my Menstrual Equity for All Act, a whole-of-government approach that will help ensure affordable access to menstrual products so that we can end period poverty.”
To help address the ongoing need for period products, Always and International Paper – alongside congressional staff and Feeding America – hosted an event in Washington D.C. on May 24 to drive awareness around the issue of period poverty and the need for legislative policy, while packing 600 kits with period products to be given to Greater DC Diaper Bank and Mary’s Center. As part of the event, Always recognized and honored the incredible work of Always Period Heroes. Period Heroes represent people and organizations across the U.S. who have already made significant efforts to address period poverty in their local area. Always recognized International Paper, Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Feeding America and Congresswoman Grace Meng for their valuable contributions in our collective mission to help #EndPeriodPoverty.
More About Our Period Heroes:
- International Paper: International Paper transforms renewable resources into recyclable products that people depend on every day – including pulp for personal care products. Throughout 2023, International Paper and Always will hold 50 period packing events at facilities across the country to ensure that people have the essential items they need to stay in school.
- Brooke and Breanna Bennett – Co-Founders of Women in Training, Inc: At just 15-years-old, twin sisters Brooke and Breanna ignited change in Alabama by helping to pass Alabama’s “period poverty” law in April 2022, which allocates $200,000 to the Alabama Department of Education to provide grants for menstrual products to students in Title I schools.
- Feeding America: Feeding America has been a long-standing partner of Always, working alongside them since the launch of the #EndPeriodPoverty program in 2018. The Feeding America network of food banks serves families who face hunger and may not be able to afford basic non-food household goods including period products.3 Feeding America, among other organizations, have helped to provide 75 million period products in the U.S.
- Congresswoman Grace Meng: Congresswoman Grace Meng is working to drive real systemic change and help #EndPeriodPoverty for good with the re-introduction of the Menstrual Equity for All Act – the first whole-of-government approach to address this issue.
“Always’ brand purpose is built on the ability to foster girls’ confidence, especially during puberty. When someone isn’t properly protected during their period, it puts their confidence, dignity, and education at risk,” said Balaka Niyazee, Senior Vice President of North America Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble. “Our purpose fuels our ongoing commitment to raise awareness of the issue of period poverty, donate products, tackle stigma, and help drive systemic change. As a mother of a 12-year-old daughter, I am motivated to do more so she can enter puberty feeling supported and educated. Always is proud to continue to partner with International Paper and Feeding America – together we are advocating for the Menstrual Equity for All Act so all girls can stay confident and stay in school.”
The Impact of Period Poverty in the U.S.:
- While several U.S. states have increased action to help #EndPeriodPoverty, 56% of society believes they should do more to provide free products to those needing them4.
- Of girls that have missed school because of period poverty, not only did 49% of them say that missing school negatively impacted their academic performance, but 3 out of 5 tried to hide it from the people around them5.
- Students who were more regularly absent in early years of school were less likely to vote, reported having greater economic difficulties and had poorer educational outcomes when they were 22 to 23 years old6.
“We're proud to partner with Always and Feeding America to help address the issue of period poverty,” said Sophie Beckham, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, International Paper. “Our award-winning Fighting Period Poverty in Our Communities program which provides period care kits containing supplies for women and girls who have no access to these products, helps us make progress on our Vision 2030 goal of improving the lives of 100 million people in our communities by creating positive impact.”
How You Can Help #EndPeriodPoverty:
- The fight does not end here. To help #EndPeriodPoverty, we encourage everyone to contact their elected officials here and ask them to show their support for the Menstrual Equity for All Act.
Always®, the world’s leader in menstrual protection, offers a wide range of pads, wipes and liners designed to fit different body types, period flows and preferences. For over 35 years, Always has been supporting millions of young people globally through puberty and confidence education, providing products to those in need and tackling societal barriers to girls’ confidence. Together, Always believes we can create a world where neither periods nor gender get in the way of young people reaching their full potential. Please visit www.always.com for more information.
About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products, and one of North America’s largest recyclers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 39,000 colleagues globally who are committed to creating what’s next. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2022 were $21.2 billion. Additional information can be found by visiting www.internationalpaper.com.
About Feeding America®
Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
About Women in Training, Inc.
One in five American girls and young women skip school or miss work because they cannot afford sanitary pads or tampons to stay healthy and clean during their period. To alleviate period poverty, Women in Training, Inc. (WIT) provides monthly donations of WITKITS – canvas bags containing full packs of Always period products, dental and hygiene supplies – to at-risk girls, young women and gender expansive youth. WIT also provides formal educational programs about menstruation and teen pregnancy prevention, and publishes the brochure, “The WIT Guide to the Menstrual Cycle.” For more information, see www.womenintraining.org
1 1000 U.S. females, 16-24 y.o., Research Now ‘17
2 1000 U.S. females, 16-24 y.o., Research Now ’17 & U.S. 2016 Census
4 4000 U.S. respondents, One Poll ‘21
5 The Always Confidence & Puberty Local Market Study, Jul/Aug. 2019; based on females 16-29 years old; Census.gov/popclock.
6 Science Daily. July 1, 2020. Ohio State university. “School absenteeism has surprising consequences for adults”, Jeff Grabmeier