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The Impact of Period Poverty on Youth

By Samantha Bell / June 10, 2020

Nationally, one in four women struggles to purchase period products due to lack of income – this is period poverty. In many instances, these women rely on relief available through public institutions like schools to help fill that gap. There are nearly 3 million women and girls between the ages of 12 and 44 (the average age range someone experiences a period) in Illinois. Of those, one in six lives below the federal poverty line.

With many schools closed or moving to virtual teaching due to the pandemic, the thousands of girls who rely on schools to provide the period supplies they need, are going without. This unacceptable situation adds stress on to an already stressful time, and it can force many girls to seek out potentially harmful alternatives like stretching the use of period products beyond sanitary conditions and using substitute products like toilet tissue or even socks.

Alliance for Period Supplies works throughout the U.S. to ensure that individuals in need have access to the essential period products required to participate in everyday life. Last year, our five Allied Programs in Illinois distributed 261,573 menstrual products to women and girls in need.

U by Kotex, founding sponsor of Alliance for Period Supplies, has teamed up with Walgreens and Chicago Ideas for a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 10 from 4-5 p.m. The virtual event will bring together activists and youth to explore the disproportionate impact of period poverty on Chicago’s young people. Together, we’ll identify tactical steps to catalyze change—and help make period poverty a thing of the past.

I invite you to join the conversation by registering online here and visiting AllianceforPeriodSupplies.org and UbyKotex.com for ways to get involved. If you can’t join us for this educational panel, here are some other ways you can help:

Shop at Your Local Walgreens: During the month of June, your purchase of any U by Kotex products at Walgreens stores or Walgreens.com will generate a donation of two period products, up to 1.5 million, to the Alliance for Period Supplies, to support its Allied Programs and individuals who struggle with basic necessities in Chicago and across the country. Walgreens will also donate $15,000 to the Alliance for Period Supplies to support programming that works to address period poverty among school-aged girls.

Donate: The Alliance for Period Supplies works with more than 80 period supply banks to address period poverty in communities across the country. We serve over 50,000 people every month, but with your help we can make an even bigger impact. Visit our website to learn more.

Spread the Word: 88% of people recently surveyed agreed that period products are a basic necessity for women; however, only 4 percent of those with a regular period are aware of a local resource where free or reduced cost period supplies are available. Share the knowledge and spread the word about Alliance for Period Supplies.


Samantha Bell serves as Program Director for the Alliance for Period Supplies, a program of the National Diaper Bank Network. Launched in May 2018 with the support of founding sponsor U by Kotex, the Alliance for Period Supplies is focused on addressing period poverty in the U.S., and works to help get essential period products to individuals in need so they can participate fully in daily life.