Some people struggle to afford pads and tampons. This Grand Rapids nonprofit wants to help. | Michigan Radio

Some people struggle to afford pads and tampons. This Grand Rapids nonprofit wants to help.

Jul 30, 2018

Government assistance programs, like SNAP and Medicaid, don't cover the cost of feminine hygiene products.
Credit Michigan Radio

People everywhere need access to pads, tampons, and other feminine hygiene products, but throughout Michigan, some women and people in the transgender community are forced to go without. It’s a global phenomenon known as “period poverty.”

Christine Mwangi is founder of Be a Rose, an organization working to fight period poverty in the Grand Rapids area. She joined Stateside to talk about her organization is expanding access to resources and information related to women’s health. 

Mwangi’s organization has two central missions. The first is to help educate women about the female reproductive systems so that they can make more informed decisions about their health. If they know what is normal, they can spot something that isn’t.

The second is to provide access to feminine hygiene products. Mwangi says women who can’t afford pads and tampons may end up using paper towel, socks, or toilet paper. One of the reasons many low-income women are forced to use these alternatives is feminine hygiene products are not subsidized by any government assistance programs.

“And it’s not just pads and tampons. Women, when having their period, also need toilet paper; they need soap; they need toiletries on top of the products like pads and tampons to absorb the blood during menstruation. And none of these products are covered by food stamps," Mwangi explained. 

Listen above to hear Mwangi discuss how Be a Rose reaches those in need in the Grand Rapids community, and the impact access to feminine hygiene products has on the people the organization serves. 

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