NoProblem.Period: Free Menstrual Products in Women's Restrooms
Back in my hometown of Rochester, Washington, two girls Izzy Masias and Audrey Williams from Rochester Middle School, now Freshman at Rochester High School, started a campaign to help middle school girls have the resources they need when starting their period for the first time.
"What got us started is we had a leadership [class] project that included us finding a way to help the community. With lot's of ideas brainstormed, one day we were in the car headed to a football game, when we started to discuss subjects at our school that are issues. The subject of paying 25 cents for pads or tampons came up and thats what started our journey," said Masias and Williams.
According to Kids Health, the average age a young girl receives her period is 12. Their campaign, "NoProblem.Period contributes to middle school because you never know when you’re going to begin your period, and since school is 5/7 days a week for 6-8 hours a day, starting your period at school is super likely. We provide free pads, tampons, panty liners, wipes, and even underwear and leggings so whatever the situation is, you have what you need (for free) when you need it," says Masias and Williams.
The stigma around girls starting their periods prevents them being able to talk about its challenges without being embarrassed. According to Healthy Women, "62% of women and 59% of men described the topic of periods as "embarrassing to talk about," and only 60% (of both men and women) find it acceptable for women to mention that they're having their period." A period is a part of a women's life for about 40 years and often we feel shame and embarrassment for having one. Those that live in poverty, may not be able to afford menstrual product, which may make it even more embarrassing for young girls starting their periods. Masias and Williams made sure that those of all classes are able to access products for free.
"The impact we’ve made at Rochester Middle School is girls not having to be embarrassed about their period and [helping] end the stigma of talking about periods. Which is another thing that has been impacted nation-wide, we were even featured in an article from The Wall Street Journal. We have also impacted county’s around us because during COVID-19 we’ve switched gears into delivering period products for families to their doorstep. State-wide, we testified for Senate Bill 6073, which unfortunately didn’t pass, but the bill was to make all period products free in girls bathrooms," stated Masias and Williams.
Masias and Williams mentioned, "We are [currently] working on a starter packet to bring to other schools so they can have their own NoProblem.Period bins in their bathrooms. We plan on taking on other school around us, hopefully going state-wide and after hopefully nation-wide, so we don’t have a project similar to ours placed in other schools, but rather other branches of NoProblem.Period [established to have a greater impact on the issue at hand]. We plan to take this project up with us to high school. We have assigned middle schoolers to take care of the bins at the middle school, we are also planning on putting one bin at the elementary school for early starters."
One day, we will hopefully have free menstrual products available in all women's restrooms, but until that day those interested in supporting the continuation of NoProblem.Period, go to their website at noproblemperiod.com or follow their Instagram @noproblem.period.