On January 21, over 5 million people worldwide--and 1 million right in Washington DC--marched to protect the rights, safety and health of women everywhere. A huge display of solidarity (and probably the largest demonstration in U.S. history), the Women’s March united a broad array of activists around a common purpose: that women’s rights are human rights.
Though criticized by some as too general, the Women’s March was an invitation for a kaleidoscope of people and identities to come together in recognizing, accepting and celebrating the common cause within their differences. The March was, for example,possibly one of the largest gatherings of people with disabilities in U.S. history. The marchers displayed every last issue particular to women, including the right to safe, affordable menstrual hygiene products (see: #periodpride).
The recent groundswell of support at the intersection of women’s rights and menstrual hygiene has uncovered the need for research and education on the topic, both in the U.S. and around the world. The Guardian recently reported that 65 percent of women and girls in Kenya are unable to afford sanitary pads, despite the perception of the country as a leader on repealing the so-called “period tax.”
The need to quantify, address and destigmatize menstrual hygiene has generated a movement: “menstrual equity.” Petitions and books are circulating, and at last count, eight states have introduced tampon tax bills in 2017 alone. Especially for women who are homeless, incarcerated or in poverty, menstrual equity is welcome progress.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, an attorney and leader of the menstrual equity movement, acknowledges the centrality of policy in menstrual equity, and hastily adds, “[T]ampon drives are a remarkably easy but infinitely meaningful way to help women take charge, and take care, of their bodies and their lives.”
Perhaps what the Women’s March proved most is the desire for policy changes and concrete, active solutions. The Huffington Post ran an article about how poverty is a women’s rights issue. In the days, weeks and months following the Women’s March, continue to take action by donating.
By working to provide access to menstrual hygiene management products for women in poverty, we’re working to empower women through menstrual equity. Why? Because women’s rights are human rights, and that’s an agenda worth marching for.
We salute all the women who are standing up for change both in our community of Grand Rapids and around the world. Happy International Women's Day!
Be a Rose would like to take this opportunity to recognize Heather Robinson and Jake Sleutel of Craft Raft Studio, who participated in the Pussyhat Project and collected a portion of the sales from their Pussyhats, for Be a Rose.
Heather asks that their $400 donation to Be a Rose be dedicated to all the women who marched in Washington where they sold the hats! Thank you also to their daughter Margaret Sleutel who told them about the mission of Be a Rose!