A group of fifth grade Girl Scouts in Ohio was tired of having to pick up period products from the school nurse, and missing class as a result, so they took matters into their own hands.
The girls, whose full and names and schools haven’t been revealed to protect their privacy, spearheaded an effort to use cookie sale funds to help install period product lockers in their school bathrooms, Good Morning America reported.
At first, the school's parent-teacher organization shut down their petition to build individual period product lockers, but in December, they eventually received permission to move forward and put up storage space that students can share.
Jordan, one of the Girl Scouts, told Teen Vogue she wanted to start the project to empower girls at her school to feel confident and feel supported during their periods.
Before the Girl Scouts installed period product lockers, girls at the middle school felt uncomfortable carrying the products to the bathroom, according to Jordan. Many of them resorted to hiding the products in their clothes because their school has a strict policy that forbids students from carrying bags, and their uniforms don’t have pockets.
Jordan was also concerned that students could potentially fall behind on their school work if they spent too long going to the nurse’s office. Another Girl Scout, Reagan, told Teen Vogue she didn’t want students to be distracted and stressed thinking about managing their periods.
Molly Fitzgerald, senior technical adviser in health at the nonprofit organization Plan International, told Global Citizen people who menstruate are discriminated against around the world.
“It is mind-boggling that billions of women and girls experience this fact of life on a monthly basis, yet stigma, taboo, and silence fueled by harmful gender norms create challenges for girls to manage their periods,” Fitzgerald said.
“As a society, we should make sure this basic fact of life does not undermine girls’ ability to fully participate in schools and other settings.”
PERIOD at Ohio State, a nonprofit activist group, plans to petition Ohio State to provide free menstrual products in all restrooms across campus, including women’s and men’s. https://t.co/DKQC20M8ql— The Lantern (@TheLantern) November 8, 2018
The menstrual supplies brand Always conducted a poll in 2018 that found 1 in 5 girls in the US have missed school because they did not have period products. Many schools in Ohio, mostly charter and private schools, provide free period products, but activists are working to pass legislation that requires every school to supply them. Advocates argue menstrual health education and access to safe water and sanitation are also vital to ensuring people who menstruate can reach their full potential.
"We never really set out to really change the world with our project, but we knew that it could make a world of a difference to the girls in our school," Reagan said to Good Morning America.