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Courtesy of Always
PartnerWater & Sanitation

Gina Rodriguez and Always Are Helping Girls Stay in School During Their Periods

Millions of girls around the world miss school when they menstruate. From India and Ghana to the US and the UK, shame, social stigma, and a lack of access to period products holds many girls back from fully participating in their lives during their periods.

At least 500 million women and girls lack access to adequate facilities and products to manage their menstrual hygiene. And that can have a direct impact on girls’ educations.

Always — Procter & Gamble’s leading feminine hygiene brand — is teaming up with actress Gina Rodriguez, star of Jane the Virgin, to help ensure that girls in the US do not miss out on school because of their periods.

Take Action: Let's #EndPeriodPoverty

“It’s one thing to tell girls that they can do amazing things, and that they can succeed beyond their wildest dreams, but if we’re not giving them the tools and opportunities to do it, it’s pointless,” Rodriguez wrote in an op-ed for Teen Vogue.

In the US, nearly 20% of girls have left school early or missed school entirely when menstruating because they did not have access to period products, according to a recent Always Confidence and Puberty study. Girls who live below the poverty line or are from low-income families are at particular risk of skipping school during their periods.

“As kids head back to school over the coming weeks, many girls will miss out on crucial lessons and opportunities to grow — but not because they don’t have the aptitude or drive to succeed … [but] because they don’t have access to the products they need to manage their periods,” she wrote.

To help end “period poverty,” Always will donate a period product to a girl in need for every Always product purchased between July 29 and Sept. 8 in the US. Always will also donate additional pads for every “throwback school photo” users share on social media using the hashtag #EndPeriodPoverty and tagging the brand (@always and @always_brand on Instagram).

While period stigma and the lack of access to menstrual hygiene management products in developing countries is often discussed, these are issues that affect girls in the US and other developed countries too. Always wants to start a national conversation about the lack of access to period products and help encourage girls to feel more confident in their own bodies.

"Always’ mission is rooted in building girls’ confidence, which we know takes a hit at puberty,” Jennifer Davis, President of Global Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble, said. 

“Education is a huge driver of girls’ confidence and when we learned that nearly one in five girls in the US are missing school because they don’t have period protection, we saw the need to expand our current efforts. Our goal is not only to help provide access to period products for girls in need, but also spark a national conversation,” she said.  

Around the world, menstruating girls may miss out on school for different reasons. Some are forced to stay home due to social stigma and misconceptions, while others do not go to school because they know they will not have access to appropriate hygiene facilities or menstruation management products, like pads or tampons.

Read more: 5 Things to Know About Building Confidence in Teen Girls

Across Africa, 1 in 10 girls miss school when they are menstruating, UNICEF estimates. In Afghanistan and Nepal, approximately 30% of girls miss school during their periods. Overall, it’s estimated that girls who miss school during their periods lose out on about two and a half weeks of their education every year — some may miss out on as much as 20% of the school year.

But menstruation is a natural and normal bodily process that should not prevent girls from living their lives and achieving their full potential.

For more than three decades, Always has championed girls’ confidence. Through its Puberty & Confidence education programs, the organization reaches more than 17 million girls annually. Their product access programs have provided more than 80 million pads to girls in need around the world in the past 10 years alone.

Now, Always is helping to end “period poverty” in the US. 

The period products will be distributed through the nonprofit Feeding America to be distributed through its school pantry program, which provides food, toiletries and personal care products to kids who are most in need. Always has donated products through and worked with Feeding America for more than 10 years and aims to donate an additional 15 million period products — the largest donation of period products in Feeding America’s history — through this initiative.