At the border right now, there’s no solace for young teens who might know little about what’s happening to their bodies—yet have to summon the courage to tell a male guard and ask for pads, only to be denied or given too few to matter. Or have to manage their periods in over-crowded rooms where privacy is scant. And aren’t even able to shower or wash hands or scrub clean stained underwear.
Knowing and having access to all the possibilities for dealing with periods is a matter of comfort and improved sanitation, and a means for achieving body integrity and increased opportunity. Menstruating individuals deserve choices—so let’s unpack them!
“We know what’s in the food we eat, the medicine we take and the clothes we wear. The millions of consumers in New York have an absolute right to also know what’s in our menstrual products.”
I co-founded Diva International in 2001 with the vision of creating a viable alternative to disposable tampons and pads—the DivaCup. But 17 years later, our mission has expanded beyond just selling a product.
What do recent victories for menstrual equity worldwide suggest for the future of the movement?
The threat of violence created by the lack of safe sanitation facilities excludes too many girls around the world from equitable opportunities to achieve.
Australia’s feminist superheroes won an 18-year battle against a “luxury tax.”
Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment goes beyond a matter of principle. It would also offer a host of legal remedies to gender-based disparities, including discrimination in the workplace and the injustices that face survivors in our rape culture—and it would be a major boon to the emerging movement for menstrual equity.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are using their nuptials as an opportunity to rally support for seven organizations—including a Mumbai-based non-profit that produces and distributes affordable menstrual hygiene products to women in the city’s slums.
Given that this particular bodily function has been an essential slice of the human condition forever—and stigmatized, sidelined or, at best, ignored for just about as long—it is no small thrill that menstruation has become a modern cause célèbre. Now the time is ripe to harness all that momentum and go full-blown political: periods as a public policy agenda.