In Honor of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Always® brings together advocates in support of Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act
Always brings together advocates at event in Washington D.C. to promote systemic change and help #EndPeriodPoverty. Pictured: Corinne Cannon (Greater DC Diaper Bank), Dr. Tiffany Wilson (Mary’s Center), Sophie Beckham (International Paper), Breanna Bennett (Women in Training, Inc.), Congresswoman Grace Meng, Brooke Bennett (Women in Training, Inc.), Bridget Carney (Feeding America), Balaka Niyazee (Procter & Gamble), Louie Morante (Procter & Gamble). Photo: Ian Wagreich
In honor of Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28, Always, the leader in global menstrual care; International Paper, the leading global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products; Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Co-Founders of Women in Training, Inc. (WIT); and, Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, rallied together in Washington D.C. in support of Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act. The Act would ensure people have access to free period products in federal buildings and schools so that no one would have to miss out because of their period.
“Most people are shocked to learn that right here in the U.S., nearly 1 in 5 girls have missed school because they don’t have access to period products. It was then we realized we could help alleviate this issue,” Breanna, age 15, said at the event.
Her twin sister, Brooke continued: "No one should have to bleed through their clothes and miss out on education because of their period!”
Breanna and Brooke Bennett after speaking at the Menstrual Hygiene Day event. Photo: Ian Wagreich
Period poverty is defined as a lack of access to period protection – and it affects millions of people around the world, even in the most economically developed countries. Here in the U.S., 1 in 5 girls have missed school due to the lack of access to period products – that is more than 3.5 million girls. Since the launch of Always’ #EndPeriodPoverty program in 2018, Always has donated more than 235 million period products to those in need around the world, including more than 75 million in the U.S. in partnership with Feeding America and other organizations. However, donations alone cannot resolve the systemic issue of period poverty.
The stigma surrounding periods can prevent those affected from voicing their needs and prevents potential solutions from being widely discussed and implemented. To date, only 22 states have passed a law to provide free period products in some capacity. There is a need for national change to solve the issue of period poverty and if passed, Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act would help do just that across the U.S.
Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act. Photo: Ian Wagreich
“People are often unaware the impact period poverty is having on so many individuals in their own communities and across the nation. Millions of people in the United States and around the world lack access to period products and are forced to forego educational or employment opportunities because of it,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “We cannot thrive as a society or economy without the full participation and education of women, girls, and people with periods in society. That is why I am proud to reintroduce my Menstrual Equity for All Act, a whole-of-government approach that will help ensure affordable access to menstrual products so that we can end period poverty.”
To help address the ongoing need for period products, Always and International Paper – alongside congressional staff and Feeding America – hosted an event in Washington D.C. on May 24 to drive awareness around the issue of period poverty and the need for legislative policy, while packing 600 kits with period products to be given to Greater DC Diaper Bank and Mary’s Center. As part of the event, Always recognized and honored the incredible work of Always Period Heroes. Period Heroes represent people and organizations across the U.S. who have already made significant efforts to address period poverty in their local area. Always recognized International Paper, Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Feeding America and Congresswoman Grace Meng for their valuable contributions in our collective mission to help #EndPeriodPoverty.
“Always’ brand purpose is built on the ability to foster girls’ confidence, especially during puberty. When someone isn’t properly protected during their period, it puts their confidence, dignity, and education at risk,” said Balaka Niyazee, Senior Vice President of North America Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble.
Balaka Niyazee, Senior Vice President of North America Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble, present the Always Period Hero award to Breanna and Brooke Bennett. Photo: Ian Wagreich
Ms. Niyazee continued: “Our purpose fuels our ongoing commitment to raise awareness of the issue of period poverty, donate products, tackle stigma, and help drive systemic change. As a mother of a 12-year-old daughter, I am motivated to do more so she can enter puberty feeling supported and educated. Always is proud to continue to partner with International Paper and Feeding America – together we are advocating for the Menstrual Equity for All Act so all girls can stay confident and stay in school.”
After the International Paper event, Breanna and Brooke, along with Adeyela Bennett, WIT Chief Engagement Officer, and Bradley Bennett, WIT Communications Director, joined Ms. Niyazee from P&G, Nicole Collier, Procter & Gamble's Vice President of Global Government Affairs, and Christina Lotspike, Procter & Gamble Director of Government Relations, for a meeting with White House administrators. The team shared their #EndPeriodPoverty mission with The White House's Steve Benjamin, Director, Office of Public Engagement and Senior Advisor to the President, and Gabriela Cristobal, Senior Advisor, Office of Public Engagement. The following day, the Women in Training, Inc. team joined Louie Morante, Procter & Gamble's Communications Director, North America Always Innovations & Social Impact, for a tour of The White House.
The Women in Training and Procter & Gamble teams shared their #EndPeriodPoverty mission with The White House's Steve Benjamin, Director, Office of Public Engagement and Senior Advisor to the President (in the top photo in the middle position) and Gabriela Cristobal, Senior Advisor, Office of Public Engagement (in the middle photo on the far left).
More About Always Period Heroes:
International Paper: International Paper transforms renewable resources into recyclable products that people depend on every day – including pulp for personal care products. Throughout 2023, International Paper and Always will hold 50 period packing events at facilities across the country to ensure that people have the essential items they need to stay in school.
Brooke and Breanna Bennett – Co-Founders of Women in Training, Inc: At just 15-years-old, twin sisters Brooke and Breanna ignited change in Alabama by helping to pass Alabama’s “period poverty” law in April 2022, which allocates $200,000 to the Alabama Department of Education to provide grants for menstrual products to students in Title I schools.
Feeding America: Feeding America has been a long-standing partner of Always, working alongside them since the launch of the #EndPeriodPoverty program in 2018. The Feeding America network of food banks serves families who face hunger and may not be able to afford basic non-food household goods including period products.3 Feeding America, among other organizations, have helped to provide 75 million period products in the U.S.
Always Period Heroes pose with Balaka Niyazee, Senior Vice President of North America
Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble. Photo: Ian Wagreich
The Impact of Period Poverty in the U.S.:
While several U.S. states have increased action to help #EndPeriodPoverty, 56% of society believes they should do more to provide free products to those needing them.
Of girls that have missed school because of period poverty, not only did 49% of them say that missing school negatively impacted their academic performance, but 3 out of 5 tried to hide it from the people around them.
Students who were more regularly absent in early years of school were less likely to vote, reported having greater economic difficulties and had poorer educational outcomes when they were 22 to 23 years old.
“We're proud to partner with Always and Feeding America to help address the issue of period poverty,” said Sophie Beckham, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, International Paper. “Our award-winning Fighting Period Poverty in Our Communities program which provides period care kits containing supplies for women and girls who have no access to these products, helps us make progress on our Vision 2030 goal of improving the lives of 100 million people in our communities by creating positive impact.”
How You Can Help #EndPeriodPoverty:
In honor of Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28, Always, the leader in global menstrual care; International Paper, the leading global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products; Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Co-Founders of Women in Training, Inc. (WIT); and, Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, rallied together in Washington D.C. in support of Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act. At the bottom right is Clay R. Ellis, Senior Vice President, Global Cellulose Fibers, International Paper. Photos: Ian Wagreich