According to UNICEF, 1.8 billion people menstruate. Factors like gender inequality, poverty, a lack of hygiene services, and discrimination can make menstruation disruptive to a person’s ability to work and attend school. Many people also face harassment and exclusion from society. Health equity includes better social support, education, good sanitation and hygiene services, and access to period products. While many menstrual justice organizations focus on girls and women in their messaging, trans men and non-binary people who menstruate need health equity, too. Here are 13 menstrual justice organizations around the world working for justice and equity:
The Pad Project
Founded in 2013 by students and educators, The Pad Project first began as a documentary film but has since grown into an organization with international impact. The film “Period. End of Sentence.” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2019. The organization partners with local organizations and grassroots NGOs on a handful of initiatives, including the funding of pad machines, washable pad programs, and menstrual hygiene workshops around the world. The pad machines and washable pad programs use a social enterprise model. The Pad Project also runs Pads for All and Pads for School, which address period poverty. The Pad Project is committed to inclusivity and uses the term “menstruators” in reference to everyone who experiences periods.
Project Stree was co-founded by Juhi Patel and Ria Soni. Both students (in health science and pre-med, respectively), the two women founded their organization to increase awareness around hygiene habits, challenge women’s health stigma, and empower Indian women. Since 2019, the organization has donated 7500+ pads, served 2,000+ girls and women, and impacted 16 communities. Project Stree held its first workshop in 2020, where the co-founders and workshop coordinator discussed hygiene with attendants. The organization also organizes Diwali donation drives, collaborates with universities (like Rutgers) to address women’s health stigmas, and runs an Ambassador program. You can support the organization by purchasing items from their shop (100% of the proceeds go to organizing workshops and creating student care packages for Gujarat, India), donating, volunteering, or applying for the Ambassador program if you’re a college student.
The National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW Foundation)
NOW Foundation is a US-based 501(c) (3) organization affiliated with the National Organization for Women, the largest feminist grassroots organization with hundreds of chapters around the country. Established in 1986 as the National Organization for Women’s education and litigation arm, NOW Foundation focuses on reproductive health, employment, discrimination, LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, and violence against women. NOW’s work includes public speaking events, conferences, training programs, and educational materials. Period poverty and equity fall under the umbrella of reproductive health. While NOW’s messaging around menstruation doesn’t use inclusive language, the organization does support trans rights as part of its advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
Alliance for Period Supplies
Based in the United States, the Alliance for Period Supplies is a national organization working to increase access to period products. U by Kotex® is a founding sponsor. The organization is comprised of Allied Programs, which are independent nonprofit organizations. Allied Programs collect, store, and distribute supplies to local communities. The organization’s website includes a map of programs throughout the country. The Alliance works with 120+ period supply banks and provides supplies for over 420,000 cycles every year. Supporters can get involved by hosting product drives or fundraisers; volunteering with local supply programs; or shopping for U by Kotex® products at partnering retail stores at various times of the year. The Alliance is also looking for people willing to start period supply programs in their area. The website offers a Period Supply Drive Toolkit.
The Siyasizana Foundation
Founded in 2017 by Dineo Nono and Mihlali Ndamase, the South Africa-based Siyasizana Foundation works in areas like education, health, personal care and hygiene, and fun, all in service of helping people create healthy, well-rounded, and sustainable lives. The organization prioritizes children as they are a group that often needs the most assistance and empowerment. The distribution of period products is part of the organization’s mission. With the help of private companies and the public, the organization holds a Pad Drive every year that provides schools and women’s shelters with pads. Supporters can donate to the organization or volunteer during outreach projects.
This South African nonprofit works to ensure girls can stay in school when they’re having their periods. Using established networks of community educators and Life Orientation Teachers, Project Dignity raises awareness and distributes Subz Pants and pads to girls 10-19 years old. They’re given face-to-face education and materials along with their packs. Project Dignity also hosts workshops in primary and high schools about reproductive health and menstruation. The goal is to decrease stigma and empower students to stay in school. Project Dignity offers a few ways to support the organization, including hosting your own fundraising campaign or giving through a platform listed on the website.
In 2018, Candice Chirwa began creating resources for parents and teachers on menstruation. Her South African organization has now expanded to child-friendly workshops that serve hundreds and create a safe space for discussions about periods and health. Qrate promotes “Edufilment,” which is offered through three pillars: service, education, and advocacy. The goal is for young people to develop critical thinking skills as they engage with the organization’s interactive, educational content. Qrate and Candice Chirwa have been featured in media like Global Citizen, The Borgen Project, and DoSomething.org.
The Myna Mahila Foundation
This organization in India uses a unique model: they employ local women to manufacture sanitary pads and sell them at affordable prices in Mumbai’s slums. Monthly, the organization reaches 10,000+ women and since its founding, they’ve made 12 million sanitary pads, reached 5.5 million women, and assisted 84,000+ through the COVID-19 Relief Plan. The Myna app offers health-related videos, a period tracker, and one-on-one consultation with an expert. The organization also runs health centers in the Mumbai slums. Myna’s model addresses a variety of challenges, such as unemployment, period poverty, and health equity. By 2025, Myna Launchpad hopes to provide health services to 2 million and job opportunities for 1 million. You can support the organization by donating, sponsoring a girl, or joining the college Ambassador program.
Unite For Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE)
A US-based organization for young people, URGE is built from campus chapters and Community Activist Networks where members educate communities and advocate for local, state, and national policies. Its priorities include abortion access, parenting, health and wellness, sex and culture, and civic engagement. URGE also hosts Reproductive Justice Leadership Institutes, which introduce students to the reproductive justice movement and cover topics like period poverty. In a 2021 blog post on its website by Antoilyn Nguyen, URGE emphasizes the need for inclusivity and an end to transphobic language about menstruation.
Founded by two Oregon high school students in 2014, PERIOD, Inc., is a nonprofit powered by hundreds of youth chapter members, grassroots organizers, service partners, and a partner organization and company network. The organization works to end period poverty and stigma through advocacy, education, and service, including the distribution of period products. Youth leadership is the heartbeat of the organization. It uses a governance committee made of activists ages 14-25 years old. To support Period Inc., you can attend events, join a local chapter, encourage organizations/companies to join the Partnership Network, or donate funds or products.
Freweini Mebrahtu, the founder of Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory in Ethiopia, met Dr. Lewis Wall, his wife, and two of their friends in 2014. After they learned how limited access to period products and a lack of education forced girls to leave school, Dignity Period was born in partnership with Mebrahtu and with the support of Mekelle University. The organization works with the university to study the impact of periods and provide education, while also ensuring the products factory can distribute menstruation pads throughout Ethiopia. Dignity Period also works with agencies in the United States to provide reusable pad kits. You can support the organization by attending events, hosting a fundraiser, donating, or becoming a volunteer ambassador.
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Founded in 2014, this national-state partnership empowers Black women leaders at regional and national levels, works to build a coordinated movement of Black women, and lays the foundation for policy change. First founded with five organizations, In Our Own Voice is now made of eight strategic partners, including Black Women For Wellness, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, and Black Women’s Health Imperative. Areas of focus include reproductive justice, comprehensive sex education, and abortion access. Through leadership development, advocacy, and movement building, the partnership offers a way for reproductive justice organizations to amplify their work, which includes access to period products and education.
Sanitation First is an organization committed to providing people with safe, hygienic toilets. Meeting this basic sanitation need is essential for those living in poverty. The organization uses eco-toilets, which convert waste into compost and fertilizer. Period First is Sanitation First’s menstrual education program. It provides information to an entire school, so everyone understands more about menstruation. This reduces stigma and helps ensure girls stay in school without shame. Teachers are trained first, then students. The organization also distributes Safepads, which are reusable sanitary pads with antimicrobial technology. They are safe to use even if they have to be washed in unclean water. With the ecosan toilet blocks and Period First education, 10,500 girls have stayed or returned to school.
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