Periods don’t stop when paychecks do.
I Support Girls, a nonprofit organization advocating for women’s personal health, stepped in to provide menstrual hygiene products for federal workers when the US government shut down, Teen Vogue reports.
The longest government shutdown in US history lasted between Dec. 22 and Jan. 25 because President Trump and Congress could not reach an agreement over funding for the border wall. Over 800,000 employees went without paychecks as a result. President Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks, extending the border wall funding deadline to Feb. 15.
On Jan. 10, a couple of weeks into the shutdown, I Support Girls announced on social media it would ship period products, bras, and underwear to those affected. Hundreds of families who were forced to prioritize food, rent, and utilities over menstrual supplies responded.
“Our mission is to help women and girls and menstruators in need, and we understand that needs change and that periods don’t stop for furloughs and periods don’t stop for shutdowns,” Dana Marlowe, the organization’s founder, told Teen Vogue.
The organization sent a three-month supply of menstrual products of their choice, to each person who requested assistance.
Marlowe told Teen Vogue she wants people to understand the long-term consequences of not having access to menstrual hygiene, and how it stops people who menstruate from going to school or work and disrupts their daily lives.
Today's the day furloughed federal employees/contractors miss their paycheck. If that's you, and you need menstrual hygiene products, email us at Info@iSupportTheGirls.org We know a little help goes a long way, and we're here for you. #governmentshutdown#shutdown#furloughpic.twitter.com/hFZVJsRzbV— I Support The Girls (@I_Support_Girls) January 10, 2019
In the US, two-thirds of poor US women cannot afford menstrual pads or tampons, according to a study released in 2019 by Saint Louis University. 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. The tampon tax, which taxes menstrual products as luxury items globally, makes these basic items expensive and unaffordable.
I Support Girls is focused on educating the public on menstrual equity. The organization usually collects menstrual supplies and allocates them to 500 pre-approved agencies that serve the homeless, the LGBTQ community, and more. They made an exception during the shutdown after receiving requests from federal agencies including the TSA and FBI, and the Department of Justice.
“My husband and I have to go to work and we are not getting paid,” one person wrote in their request to I Support Girls.
“We have four kids, and it’s getting stressful. His car broke down, so we’re only using one. We have three teenage girls, so of course, we use lots of female hygiene products,” they explained.
Even though the shutdown ended, for now, many families won’t be receiving back pay until Jan. 31, at the earliest. If another shutdown happens, federal workers will be stuck in another predicament where they cannot afford basic needs, including menstrual supplies. For the 1.2 billion women across the world who do not have access to basic sanitation, period poverty is a reality year round.