Menstrual Matters: Shining a Light on Period Poverty (and How You Can Help)

This is a guest post, contributed by Joanne Goldblum, CEO of Alliance for Period Supplies.

One year ago, we launched Alliance for Period Supplies to help the one in four women who report struggling to purchase period products in the past year. While we had anecdotal evidence about the prevalence and impact of period poverty, national research from U by Kotex solidified the need for increased awareness and immediate action to help those in need.


The research found that one in five low-income women report missing work, school or similar events due to lack of access to period supplies. These instances were linked to reported feelings of embarrassment, disappointment and depression. Not having period supplies is linked to stretching product usage and using substitute products like toilet tissue or even socks.

The situation may be even more dire in communities with high numbers of girls and women living below the federal poverty level. A study published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology reported that two-thirds (64%) of low-income women surveyed in St. Louis, “were unable to afford menstrual hygiene supplies such as pads or tampons at some point during the previous year,” with “21 percent of women lacking supplies on a monthly basis.”

Alliance for Period Supplies’ founding sponsor, U by Kotex, has teamed up with Walgreens and Chicago Ideas for a conversation on Thursday, May 30 from 5:30—7 pm. The special event will bring together a group of activists and policymakers who are working to end period poverty locally and nationally. Together, we will identify simple solutions – provide people with the basic necessities they need to thrive—and help make period poverty a thing of the past.

Our intent is to shine a light on the struggles people face while living in poverty and reinforce our shared commitment to ensuring that a period never stands in the way of progress.

If you can’t join us for this insightful panel, here are some ways you can help:

Donate: Two in 10 (22%) women with a household income (HHI) of less than $30,000 have experienced missing an event, school or work at least once due to their period, compared to 11 percent of those with a HHI of more than $30,000. Visit U by Kotex to find an Alliance for Period Supplies allied program you can support by donating period products or making a financial contribution online.

Stop by Your Local Walgreens: During the month of June, your purchase of any U by Kotex product at Walgreens (June 1 – 30) will spark a donation of two period products, up to 1.1 million, to Alliance for Period Supplies and its allied programs located in communities throughout the country, including in Chicago.

Spread the Word: Nearly all respondents (88%) surveyed agreed that period products are a basic necessity for women; however, only 4 percent of those with a regular period are aware of a local resource where free or reduced cost period supplies are available. Share the knowledge and spread the word about Alliance for Period Supplies.

In our first year, we’ve distributed more than ten million period products to 61 allied programs serving local communities in 28 states and the District of Columbia. We invite you to join the conversation by purchasing a ticket online and to stay tuned to and all year for ways to get involved.

Data according to a 2018 U by Kotex® survey conducted with YouGov

Joanne Goldblum serves as chief executive officer of the Alliance for Period Supplies, a program of the National Diaper Bank Network. Launched in May 2018 with the support of founding sponsor U by Kotex, the Alliance for Period Supplies is focused on addressing period poverty in the U.S., and works to help get essential period products to individuals in need so they can participate fully in daily life.

Chicago Ideas is the ideas platform for everyone. Join us for upcoming events and more ways to make an impact.

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