“The idea that so many girls in the US — including in my own city of Los Angeles — are having to sacrifice part of their education because they don’t have access to period products breaks my heart,” actress and girls’ education activist Sophia Bush said.
The reality is that nearly 1 in 5 girls in the United States has missed school because she did not have access to period products, according to a study from Always, Procter & Gamble’s leading feminine hygiene brand.
“When I found out from Always how prevalent the issue is right here in my own backyard, I knew I had to help,” Bush said.
That’s why Bush is teaming up with Always this month to help #EndPeriodPoverty in the US. Period poverty –– the lack of access to period products due to economic factors –– is a global problem with far-reaching consequences. In addition,around 500 million girls and women worldwide lack access to adequate facilities to manage their menstrual hygiene. This can limit a girl’s opportunities and have a ripple effect on her community.
So, during the month of September, for every pack of Always pads purchased at participating retailers, a pad donation will be made to the Feeding America network. Additionally, likes or comments on Always’ #EndPeriodPoverty influencer and brand posts will also trigger additional pad donations to girls in need via Always’ Local Period Heroes organizations, up to a total donation of 2 million period products.
Always has long campaigned to end period poverty in places like Kenya, but is also building upon its 2018 work to keep girls in school in the US, teaming up this September with Sophia Bush.
“I’m so excited to know that together we’ll be able to make a difference for so many girls this school year,” she said.
According to the most recent Always “Confidence and Puberty Local Market Study,” tens of thousands of girls around the country have missed school because they can’t afford period products, including 143,000 girls in the New York City area, 88,000 in the Los Angeles area and 65,000 girls in the Chicago area––and it comes during a critical time of puberty and adolescence.
Access to period products, safe and private bathrooms, and a space free of period stigma all help people reach their full potential. Girls with reliable access to period products are also able to continue attending confidence-building after-school activities.
Of the girls that have missed school because of their periods, Always found that 49% said their absence negatively impacted their academic performance, and 3 out of 5 girls tried to hide their periods from their peers.
“We’re proud to continue our mission to keep more girls in school by providing them with the period products they need, and to raise awareness of this important issue,'' said Hesham Tohamy, Procter & Gamble’s vice president of feminine care. “For the past 35 years, Always has been committed to championing girls’ confidence — and we’re not stopping now.”
The issue of period poverty is explored in-depth in ACTIVATE: The Global Citizen Movement, a six-part docuseries produced in partnership with Global Citizen, Procter & Gamble, and National Geographic. The hour-long episode, “Keeping Girls in School,” highlights how period-related issues, like a lack of access to period products, hygiene facilities and stigma, can be a barrier to girls’ education globally. The episode will air on Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel.
To date, Always has donated over 20 million period products to US school girls through their #EndPeriodPoverty campaign with the support of partners like Feeding America and people across the country.
The campaign has helped change the lives of students like Emily, an eighth-grader from Newark, New Jersey, whose father was not able to afford period products for her when she first got her period. Without products to manage her period, Emily was forced to miss class, adding to the stress of her first menstrual experience.
But, Emily now has the products and the support she needs, as well as the confidence to do well in school. “I’m going to make sure that I become somebody––and make my father and little sister proud,” she said.