Hellgate Highschools Feminine Hygeine Drive For Those In Need

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Kahlia Loewen, Reporter

Keira Skovlin and Mila McKay are running a feminine hygiene drive at Hellgate to collect tampons and pads for the Poverello Center, YWCA, Missoula Food Bank, Hellgate FRC, and Soft Landings from Nov. 1 to Nov. 18. “We were inspired to do the drive after learning about period poverty and realizing how difficult it is for many women to afford the extra cost of feminine hygiene products right now. A director at the Food Bank that I corresponded with said that period products are a very high demand product at the Food Bank, so we know that this project will be beneficial for the organizations we are donating to,” Skovlin said.

Period poverty is a public health crisis about the struggle low-income women, girls, and others who have periods face while trying to afford menstrual products. Because there is incredibly inadequate access to period products there is also very poor education on said products as well as periods in general.

For decades periods have been considered a taboo subject meant to be kept to yourself, and because of that periods are largely under-taught in schools. “I think a lot of people treat periods like something that shouldn’t be talked about, so many young girls and women are under-educated about periods. Periods are a very important part of women’s health, so people should be taught about periods in school much more than they are currently, and everyone should be educated about them (including men!) so that we can make them a comfortable subject to talk about,” Skovlin said. The stigmas associated with periods have created a harmful image for younger girls first getting their periods, which also leads to them being largely undereducated.

Period products are insanely overpriced. A box of tampons can cost anywhere from 7 to 12 dollars monthly and is currently on the incline price-wise, making it more difficult for people who are struggling monetarily. “Period products are overpriced. A box of tampons used to cost about $6, now the average cost is $8, which has increased just in the past year or two with inflation. For many people, $8 is not a large expense, but for women who are unemployed or barely making enough money for food and to have somewhere to live, spending $15-20 on pads and tampons is difficult to afford,” said Skovlin.

Of course, period poverty goes hand-in-hand with poverty. If they are struggling to afford the necessities such as food and shelter, how can women and all others who have periods be expected to afford hygiene products that are ever increasing in price? 

Having free period products would be great. Scotland has free period products, and it has helped eradicate a lot of period poverty in Scotland,” Skovlin said about the idea of free period products in the U.S. Scotland was the very first country to offer free period products nationally and was later followed by New Zealand and Kenya.

 Hellgate High School is one of the few schools to offer free products in girls bathrooms, making it an example of what the U.S. could do to help eradicate period poverty. “It would be so cool if the United States offered free period products, but unfortunately I think it’s unlikely. I really appreciate that Hellgate has free pads and tampons in the bathrooms now because it probably helps a lot of girls,” Skovlin said. 

Although it is likely it will be a very long time before period products are free and available to those in need, good people such as Skovlin, McKay, and everyone who donates will continue to work together to help those in need and fight for what is right.