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Student raises awareness of ‘period poverty’

Women across the globe experience monthly menstrual cycles. Each month, women have to buy items such as tampons and pads or other sanitary products. However, many women don’t have the funds to purchase such items.  

Robbyn Gill, junior in ecology, hopes to change that.  

As part of an activism project for a women’s studies course, Gill has started a petition.  

“Although I had many ideas for my project, I felt more drawn working to end period poverty because it is a common issue that women face, and it is generally overlooked and not seen as an issue that needs to be addressed,” Gill said. “In a survey done by the University of Pennsylvania, two thirds of those surveyed did not have proper access to hygiene products. I knew I may not have the greatest impact on changing that statistic, but I wanted to at least try to help raise awareness for the situation.”  

To find the petition, navigate to http://chng.it/K6FHNBTS.  

“…I decided to start a petition urging change and share it around on my social media,” Gill said. “I decided a petition may be best because it not only will draw the attention of those I share it with, it is also easy for those to share the link with more people.”  

Every year, millions of people experience the effects of poverty and Gill hopes to bring awareness to the fact that women struggle to pay for proper hygiene products for menstrual cycles.   

“This project is so important to me because it affects so many people around the United States,” Gill said.   

On the petition page, Gill states, “Have you ever started your period unexpectedly, in a grocery store, a restaurant, or anywhere else other than home? …It can be a challenge trying to find the products you need, when you need it. I understand that most public bathrooms have sanitary products for sale, however, I have rarely seen one that was working correctly or was adequately stocked. It would be easier to deal with these sometimes-unexpected binds if sanitary products were more widely available, and free, in public places…”  

Gill hopes to inspire others to think about this issue and take action to make menstrual products free in public bathrooms.  

“When it comes to change, I would like to see businesses take a huge step towards helping these women,” Gill said. “More times than not I have seen pad/tampon dispensers in public bathrooms that have been broken and/or empty. Personally, I would not feel comfortable walking up to the checkout counter at any business to ask them to fix or refill it for me there. I could not imagine what other women are feeling, if they do not have access to products elsewhere or do not have a safety stock of things at home.”  

As of Wednesday, Apr. 28, 21 people have signed Gill’s petition.  

“Hopefully with this project we can open the eyes for those businesses, and they can provide sanitary products in their public bathrooms for free,” Gill said. “That would be a huge feat for women in need.”  

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