No More Secrets to launch Power a Period campaign, highlighting period poverty
No More Secrets opened SPOT, the nation's first menstrual hub, in February 2021.
Period poverty is the public health crisis that’s not talked about. It is an umbrella term for inequities related to menstruation and a global issue.
Currently, 30 states in the nation, including Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and Virginia, have a tax on period products because they are considered “nonessential” goods.
This can result in many women living in poverty being forced to choose between buying food for themselves and their children and buying period products, or girls missing school during their cycle.
Menstrual products are expensive in the U.S., and government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), do not cover the cost of these necessary products.
According to a 2019 national survey conducted by the youth-led nonprofit organization PERIOD, and the period solutions company THINX, out of 1,000 menstruating teens, one in five struggled to afford period products and four in five either missed class time or know someone who has due to not having access to these products.
'While many may think of period poverty as an issue primarily affecting those in developing countries, one in five teens within the U.S. reportedly struggle to afford menstrual products.' -- via @hereandnow
— Reclaiming M.A.N.'s Time (@NewBlackMan) September 17, 2021
Sales tax is only one of the barriers to affordable menstrual hygiene for women, girls and nonbinary individuals. Although American women are 38% more likely to live in poverty than men, menstrual products cannot be purchased through food stamps, Medicaid or health insurance spending accounts.
A 2014 Shriver Report showed that there are at least 42 million women in the U.S. living in poverty, and many of them experience the indignity and shame of not being able to care for themselves during their monthly cycles.
To combat this issue in Philadelphia, Lynette Medley founded No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc., the nation’s first sexuality awareness and consultative organization.
In February of this year, No More Secrets MInd Body Spirit opened the nation’s first menstrual hub, known as the SPOT: Safety, Programming, Optimal, Transformation.
Congrats to @lynette_medley, CEO & Founder, No More Secrets, Mind Body Spirit Inc., on the Grand Opening of the Spot. Period, a haven for women battling Period Poverty. Enjoyed being with fellow supporters @RepDonnaBullock @RepMcClinton & @RepDarisha pic.twitter.com/Z5ha7geQSE
— Cherelle Parker (@CherelleParker9) February 20, 2021
Medley was inspired to start No More Secrets because she felt that there were no safe spaces to talk about this issue that impacts roughly half of the population, especially in marginalized communities.
“So No More Secrets as a whole is a sexuality awareness organization that provides education resources, therapeutic services and counseling for any sexuality related topic. We can do education series, we do workshops, we’re in the community, anything. We do outreach, and we do advocacy,” Medley told AL DÍA.
The SPOT, located on Germantown Avenue, is a menstrual hub and uterine wellness center. It is equipped with offices, a reception area, a computer room, storage space for menstrual supplies and a “Breonna Taylor” Safe room, where women and girls of marginalized communities can be vulnerable in a comforting environment.
Additionally, the space provides E series on bodily autonomy and consent.
It’s a “one stop shop where people can get menstrual health resources, supplies, access through running water, waste management and operable toilets,” Medley said.
Like most other societal issues, period poverty was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Medley and her team were no longer just serving those already in poverty, but those who had lost their jobs and wagers.
“People had to stay home, they became sick. Everything shifted and everything shut down. So where people could maybe use the school or the nurses or the community [to access products], they couldn’t because everything shut down. So everybody was basically on their own devices,” Medley said.
Menstrual cycles don't stop during a pandemic. One in four people between the ages of 13 and 35 reported having a more difficult time managing their periods because of financial strain amid the COVID-19 crisis. https://t.co/yLMjzJhfD1 # via @HuffPostLife. #EndPeriodPoverty
— Lynette Medley (@lynette_medley) January 22, 2021
Pre-pandemic, No More Secrets would do about 80 deliveries a week, but during the pandemic, that increased to about 320.
On Oct. 1, No More Secrets is launching their “Power a Period” campaign, which is about giving the power back to women and girls in terms of menstrual, health, wellness, access and equity.
“They don’t have the power to be able to go to school, live in dignity, to work, to do whatever, because we really don’t talk about period poverty. Most people think about it as a third-world country situation, but we’re not addressing it here. So right now, this is a campaign where it’s easy to support people in our community because it’s happening right here,” Medley said.
Medley explained that this campaign is particularly powerful because it features real people that have experienced period poverty and have been assisted through No More Secrets.
“So you’re really going to hear the voices of people who we’ve actually served, people who talk about the experiences being overlooked, dealing with this ongoing epidemic for years, for generations, and talking about the support that they received from No More Secrets,” Medley said.
The “Power a Period” campaign is kicking off just in time for National Period Day on October 10.
“This is revolutionary, as we’re sitting here fighting for the rights of our bodies. I just think this is the catalyst that we need to push forward. Let’s talk about the power of a period and how important it is to give women back the power of their bodies,” Medley said.
This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.