Actress and activist Sophia Bush has joined forces with Always to fight period poverty in the United States. According to the most recent Always Confidence & Puberty Local Market Study, nearly one in five girls in the United States have missed school due to lack of access to period products, including 143,000 girls in the New York City area and 88,000 girls in the Los Angeles area.
“Period poverty is a real, devastating issue, and it creates gender disparity and inequality that lasts for so many decades,” Bush tells Refinery29. “To learn, through all of this work, that this is happening in America and not infrequently — that one in five girls in America experiences period poverty and has missed school because of a lack of access to sanitary products — absolutely blew my mind.”
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When I think about #BackToSchool season, and all of the joy that school brought to me (this serious tween face aside) I think about possibility and potential. To learn that nearly 1 in 5 girls in the United States has her potential cut short and winds up missing school because of period poverty? I was aghast. 88,000 girls in the Los Angeles area alone have missed school because their family couldn’t afford period protection. Period poverty affects girls EVERYWHERE. And I believe that we have to bring awareness to this disparity so we can actively start solving this education crisis. That’s why I’m partnering with @Always_brand as they continue their mission to #EndPeriodPoverty and keep girls in school. Last year they donated 20 million products to girls in need through @FeedingAmerica, and this year we want to donate millions more! As a long time education access advocate, I truly believe nothing should stand in the way of a girl and her education. Nothing! Certainly not her period. During the month of September, you can spark product donations and support local period heroes who are already making a difference. Join us! Head to always.com/endperiodpoverty to learn more. #ad #AlwaysPartner #EducationIsEverything
Always launched its #EndPeriodPoverty campaign in 2018, and donated over 20 million period products to school-age girls in the U.S. last year. This back-to-school season, Always aims to provide millions of period products to help keep girls in school, in partnership with the Feeding America network of food banks.
“Period poverty is a financial and socioeconomic issue, but the stigma around all of us in society means we don't talk about people whose periods place them in precarious positions,” Bush says. “We need to make sure that we stop treating periods and women’s bodies like this taboo subject. There are women on their cycle everywhere, every day and we need to treat it as such. We need to treat it as a simple, normal fact of life.”
She adds, “As a person who grew up in Los Angeles, to learn that there are 88,000 girls who are missing school in L.A. because of a lack of access to period products, I just couldn't believe that every single person in our country didn’t know about this. I think it’s an incredibly important thing to be doing what we can to elevate the conversation, so it becomes common knowledge and we do something about it. We can’t tackle a problem if we don’t know that it exists.”
To participate in the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, purchase a pack of Always pads at participating retailers to spark a pad donation to the Feeding America network. You can also like or comment on #EndPeriodPoverty influencer posts, and Always will donate an additional pad to a girl in need via Local Period Heroes’ organizations, up to a total of one million period products. Finally, you can share a National Geographic video about period poverty, “Emily’s Story,” and tag @Always on Twitter or @Always_brand on Instagram with the hashtag #EndPeriodPoverty to continue raising awareness.