New Hampshire – the home state of Dartmouth College and IMHER – on Wednesday became the 4th U.S. state to guarantee free disposable menstrual pads and tampons to girls in its public middle schools and high schools. Here are some lesson’s learned by IMHER through its involvement with that legislative process.
Or, more accurately, it has not passed the bill yet. Despite exuberant recent news headlines to the contrary, Scotland did not just pass a bill to provide menstrual products for all in need. At this juncture, the bill in question has only passed the first of many procedural stages on its journey to possible final passage. This post summarizes the political process that this bill still faces to potentially becoming a global first, while analyzing how accuracy can matter in news and social media sharing about global progress on menstrual hygiene issues.
Grace Ningejeje came to Dartmouth in 2017 through the YALI Mandela Program to work on a project on menstrual hygiene in her home country of Burundi, a country facing a tremendous degree of menstrual stigma combined with unusually high degrees of poverty and school dropout rates by girls. IMHER was developed to help Grace – and by extension, other innovators like her — to gather much of the foundational information usually needed to get started in this work, and that can help an organization to grow. In the meantime, Grace has been making considerable progress at home, with a new organization focused on education, disposable pad donations, and a newly published book for girls in her country about menstrual hygiene. But she is still trying to figure out how to produce commercially viable pads in a place where little disposable income exists for most families, and where the almost-never discussed challenges faced by girls do not tend to get ranked highly among other pressing family needs.