National Period Day takes place on Saturday, October 10, 2020.
Period Day Started in October 2019
The first U.S. event of its kind, National Period Day is spearheaded by Period, a youth-led nonprofit?that hopes to raise awareness of period poverty by holding rallies in all 50 states.
This year, on October 10, Period will host a virtual day of celebration — #PeriodActionDay, or PAD — showcasing the work of menstrual justice activists and providing youth with tools and resources to take action in their own community.
What Is Period Poverty??
Period poverty is a way to describe how lack of access to sanitary products, toilets, hand-washing facilities, waste management, and more hinder women and girls from succeeding. Periods are still extremely stigmatized, according to Kate Cartagena, the youth organizing program manager at Planned Parenthood Generation Action. “Because of this stigma, far too many people are currently experiencing period poverty or struggle to afford period products,” she explains.
For 2020, Organizers Focus on Policy and Grassroots Activism
A few days later, on October 15, Period will be hosting their annual State of the Period day, a virtual fundraiser to help support youth activists and to provide period products for millions of menstruators in marginalized communities.
Seeking Support, Sanitation, and Dignity for Menstruating People
"Menstrual health and hygiene includes assuring a menstruating person has everything in place to manage the period safely and with dignity," explains Ina Jurgan, international coordinator for a related awareness day held in May,?Menstrual Hygiene Day. “Safely and with dignity” means menstruating people have access to not only information, water, toilets, and safe spaces for washing and changing but also what is needed for disposal and positive social norms.
The public health movement to end period poverty began in developing countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It focuses on clean water, sanitation, infrastructure, and access to feminine products for people all over the world. With National Period Day, organizers are calling for freely accessible menstruation products in U.S. schools, shelters, and prisons.
Celebrities Are Talking About Their Periods and Fighting Stigma
Saying a word like “menstruation” aloud helps fight period stigma, especially if you're a celebrity. Manushi Chhillar (Miss World 2017) made menstrual hygiene her signature issue, and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, took on period poverty as a cause. Through their public platforms, stars Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Alaia Baldwin Aronow, Whoopi Goldberg,?and others?have spoken about painful periods and other?symptoms of endometriosis, a disease that occurs when endometrium-like tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
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How You Can Act to Raise Awareness on National Period Day
"We need to talk to all kids about periods. They’re part of life, and education is the best route for eliminating stigma," says?Keosha Bond, MPH, a doctor of education and an assistant professor of health behavior and community health in the department of public health at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York
National Period Day is important, says Bond, "because we need to address the issue of period poverty and make products more available, not just for women and girls but also for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals."
While many Americans may think of this period poverty as an issue for low-income countries where girls can’t go to school, women can’t go to work when they can’t afford products. “We are dealing with it in the United States," says Bond.
Managing menstruation is expensive and a luxury for too many people.
Menstrual Health and Hygiene Products Are Necessary
"Anyone with a uterus knows that periods are no luxury," says Planned Parenthood's Cartenega. "They're a part of our everyday lives. Yet in many states, tampons, pads, and other menstrual products are taxed as luxury items and one in four women struggles to afford period products.?" she says.
"We can all benefit from increased period awareness," she continues. "Being able to talk openly about a completely normal and healthy part of our lives allows us to better understand our bodies, seek care or information when something is off, and be a better advocate and ally to those who are struggling to afford access to period products."
Menstrual Hygiene?Day Is May 28
National Period Day isn’t the only time of year to get thinking about menstrual health. With 12 months and 365 days a year, there are plenty of opportunities to acknowledge different aspects of menstrual health and hygiene.
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One of the more high-profile awareness events established in recent years is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), which takes place on May 28. Held annually since 2014, it’s gained an inspiring amount of momentum. International coordinator Ina Jurgan says that “the more that periods are on the radar, the better,” and with a 2019 reach of over 317 million people (over twice the event's 2018 count), it’s safe to say they’re succeeding. When it comes to promoting menstrual health and hygiene, there’s strength in numbers.
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National Period Day in October vs.?Menstrual?Hygiene?Day in May
While the two events may have different names, their organizers work together.?“National Period Day is complementary to MH Day,” Jurga?explains, “which can be helpful to rally for a specific national goal.”
While National Period Day aims to tackle period equity in the United States, MH Day has a slightly broader theme, in order, Jurga says, “to allow everyone, no matter where they are in the world, to be able to use it as a platform for their activities — be it pad donations, policy discussions, a media article on the lack of toilets in schools, or an information event at a local store.”
The two events may have different names and different dates, but both teams believe that all local attention benefits from global attention (and vice?versa).
Other Noteworthy Period Events and Campaigns
- Environmenstrual Week of Action: October 12–19,?2020?Once a year, the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) organizes Environmenstrual Week of Action, a week of menstrual-themed events all with the same aim: to minimize the use of environmentally unfriendly plastic period products. Tampons, pads, and panty liners generate more than 200,000 metric tons of waste per year, whether that includes plastic tampon applicators, colorful wrappers, or the pads themselves, which are about 90 percent plastic. If you’re considering going plastic-free, WEN offers discount codes on eco-friendly period products when you sign up for its email list.
- National Women’s Health Week: May 10–17, 2020?Organized by the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), National Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day annually and continues for the next week. It aims to empower women to take proactive steps for their own health — try out its online “Finding Your Health” tool if you’re not sure where to start.?
- Endometriosis Awareness Month:?March?Originated by the Endometriosis Foundation in 1993, Endometriosis Awareness Month takes place every March. Along with its efforts to find a cure for endometriosis, the group provides information and support for those living with the condition. This year, the EndoFound Patient Day Conference is free; it takes place online October 16 to 18.
Additional reporting by Laura McArdle.