Updated: Apr 26
Breanna and Brooke Bennett, founders of Women in Training, Inc. will speak at State Representative Rolanda M. Hollis’ 6th Annual Beautiful Women in Hats event in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 13, 2023. The 15-year-old twin sisters will speak about the progress in Alabama since Governor Kay Ivey signed Representative Hollis’ HB 50 “Period Poverty Bill” into law in a public ceremony on April 22, 2023.
“This grant funding is huge,” said Representative Hollis. “Now our young ladies in grades five to 12 can have access to period products so they can stay in school, and be confident that they’re protected. I want Bree and Brooke to speak at the event about how important it is for schools to apply for the period poverty grant.”
Always, the world’s leader in menstrual protection by Procter & Gamble, reports that one in five girls in the U.S. have missed school due to lack of access to period products.
HB 50 created a $200,000 annual grant program for Title I schools to provide free menstrual supplies to students in grades five to 12. In Title I schools, 40 percent or more of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch. The grant requires schools to select a woman teacher, nurse or guidance counselor to distribute the free period products. The Education Trust Fund provides funding for the program.
Akiesha Anderson, volunteer General Counsel, Women in Training, Inc. drafted the wording for HB 50, and advocated behind the scenes with legislative leaders to fine tune the bill.
"It was such an honor to help with drafting and advocating for this bill!" Anderson said. "As someone who grew up in Montgomery and experienced period poverty myself as a child, I understand how monumental this bill's passage is for young girls throughout our state -- many of whom are used to suffering in silence."
HB 50 passed unanimously in the Alabama House and Senate.
More than 66 percent of Alabama’s public schools, or 850 schools, are Title I eligible. Of the 218,000 girls in grades five through 12 in Alabama, more than 53,000 of them suffer from period poverty. To date, 11,000 students in Alabama have benefited from the period poverty grant, according to Representative Hollis.
“We are proud of our state for being a leader in the global effort to help end period poverty,” said Brooke Bennett. “The HB 50 law is a significant step in the right direction. We just need more schools to know about the period poverty grant.”
Breanna agreed. “The Alabama legislature has made funding available to help alleviate period poverty. Now, school leaders have to do their part, and apply for the period poverty grant.”
The Feminine Hygiene Grant is managed by the Alabama State Department of Education; it is a reimbursement grant program.
The true cost of funding period products to menstruators in Alabama's public schools is about $3 million annually; therefore, Women in Training continues its work to end period poverty. To date, WIT volunteers have distributed more than 20,000 WITKITS of menstrual, dental and hygiene supplies to girls and other menstruators throughout Alabama, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in partnership with the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium; in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Always, Procter & Gamble; in Potomac, Maryland, in partnership with St. Andrew’s Episcopal School; and the Mississippi Delta, in partnership with Grant Thornton and the Southern Poverty Law Center.