Everybody bleeds—but not everyone has the same access to affordable feminine hygiene products. Fighting period poverty and the lingering stigma around menstruation is exactly what the Power Pump Girls are here to do.
In 2017, LSU alumni Raina Vallot and Sherin Dawud launched Power Pump Girls Inc. (PPG), an organization that aims to encourage, elevate and empower all who identify as women. Although they were building a strong network of sisterhood in Baton Rouge, they knew that there was more work to be done.
It wasn’t until Vallot and Dawud took a trip to New York City that they realized a huge gap between those who suffer from period poverty and those who have never had to worry about theirbasic needs being met. To bridge this gap, the PPG founded secured., a non-profit that serves as a platform for the distribution, advocacy and de-stigmatizing menstruation and hygiene products.
“We started to think, ‘how can we fight period poverty at a grassroots level to where it has perpetual change for our children?’” Vallot said. “A society where everyone is provided for and everyone feels dignified regardless of race, gender or income.”
It all begins locally. Ambassadors who have partnered with PPG help raise money, volunteer and support women whose needs aren’t being met. All money that is raised through Secured is used to buy menstruation products to donate to local homeless shelters and schools.
To educate a society that has stigmatized this bodily function for centuries, it all begins on an individual level. PPG believes that by talking about periods normally through everyday conversation, menstruation can eventually be de-stigmatized.
“Something that’s naturally occurring shouldn’t be awkward to talk about,” Vallot said. “By starting now and changing the dialogue, we can de-stigmatize menstruation for future generations.”
On average, women spend $180 per year on menstruation products. Women who cannot afford this basic necessity are forced to use unhygienic substitutions such as socks, napkins, old shirts or receipts. In some cases, women miss school and women miss work because they have no other option.
Since women’s hygienic products are considered a cosmetic product, they are taxed at higher rates. Yet, Viagra is covered under most health insurances, and condoms are given out freely at schools and doctor’s offices. PPG is bringing awareness to menstruation products being a right, not a choice.
“We can use our voice as PPG the organization and PPG as individuals to speak out on those inequalities when it comes to basic necessities,” Vallot said.
Change starts with power, and there is power in numbers. To get involved or for more information about Power Pump Girls Inc. you can visit them on Instagram or Facebook @PowerPumpGirlsInc. You can also reach them by email Heygirl@powerpumpgirls.org. for more information on how to donate.