Students plan LA rally for period product access

Students and residents gathered at the National Period Day rally Saturday to push for better access to menstrual products. Three USC students helped plan the Southern California rally. 
(Photo courtesy of Kayla Adams)

Donned in red, supporters of the menstrual movement rallied Saturday to recognize the inaugural National Period Day. The event, held in MacArthur Park, drew 40 attendees from throughout the Southern California community and was organized by USC students Kayla Adams, Athira Pratap and Faith Florez. 

Pratap, a junior majoring in neuroscience, and Florez and Adams, sophomores majoring in narrative studies and media arts and practice, respectively, were connected through PERIOD, an organization committed to spreading awareness of period poverty and the stigma around menstrual health. 

“The PERIOD organization’s mission is to address period poverty, and to address the stigma around periods in order to address that problem. Basically for those who don’t know what period poverty is, it’s the lack of access to menstrual products, particularly affecting different demographics,” Adams said. “Specifically, a lot of marginalized women don’t have access to these products, and so PERIOD’s mission is to be able to provide that at the different intersections of where they may be, whether that be schools, shelters and prisons as well.” 

PERIOD created National Period Day with the goal of having rallies in each of the 50 states organized by individuals in each state.

“When we found out that L.A. was not going to be having a National Period Day rally, me, Faith and Kayla decided to team up and give it our all to make it happen,” Pratap said. “We all just combined our ideas together and we started just working for it. We had a ton of support from the PERIOD organization, so we ended up becoming the organizers and it just took off like that.” 

However, the two students said organizing the rally was not easy. 

“I think the main problem was locking down the venue,” Pratap said. “We had to work with the city of L.A., and try to get that approved, and there were some problems until the last minute, but I think there are always going to be challenges with event organizing and planning.”

Despite these obstacles, the event created a space for those involved with the cause to connect with one another and gain inspiration.

“I think menstruation is a pretty stigmatized topic. It’s not really brought up among people regularly in conversation, and there are many menstruators who are struggling to address their period,” said Tina Wang, a junior at UC Riverside and president of UCR’s PERIOD chapter. “I think it’s just really important to support this day and bring awareness to those menstruators and provide them with the resources they need to support themselves while they’re menstruating.”

Yet, attendees were aware that the rally was in no way the final step on the road toward successfully destigmatizing menstrual health. 

“I think to help this [issue] is not just coming to a day like this,” said Xiaolin Li, chief development officer at Nannocare, an organization that creates menstrual products for women. “Whenever you have [period products] left that you don’t need, don’t waste them. Don’t throw them away, give them away. Somebody’s always gonna need it.

For Adams, her next goal is to make the USC community more aware of PERIOD and the issues it stands for. 

“You can only go so far … [with a rally],” Adams said. “I really want us to be able to be a recognized student organization at school and to start at the base level. I feel like there’s a really big disparity between USC and the outside community. There are a lot of initiatives, but being able to extend our efforts to the outside community, as far as menstrual products to the women in our community, in whatever capacity we can, could definitely be something that we would be interested in and should be doing.”