Period @ Mizzou advocates for menstruation justice at rally

MU organizations gathered to advocate for legislation and products that address issues surrounding menstruation.

Period @ Mizzou wants to change the stigma surrounding menstruation. So, along with 55 other national chapters, it hosted a rally at Speakers Circle for the first National Period Day on Oct. 19.

Approximately 50 people attended the event, where they sported shirts and signs with messages of period positivity. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Mizzou, Mizzou College Democrats, The Peace Nook, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion co-sponsored the event.

Representatives from the respective organizations provided food, stickers and buttons. They also gave speeches where they addressed how menstruation is intersectional. The rally attendees showed their support through chanting “axe the tax” and “menstrual rights are human rights.”

“Period @ Mizzou is an organization aimed at fighting the stigma against menstruation and supplying products for people in need who menstruate,” Sunshine Kelleher, external relations chair of Period @ Mizzou said. “We’re here to fight the stigma through advocacy, education and service.”

Period @ Mizzou’s partnership with ASUM brought a political focus to the event. ASUM Executive Director Natalie Butler said both organizations want to change the taxation on feminine and incontinence products, like diapers and pads, in Missouri. Currently, period products are under sales tax, while products such as Viagra and Rogaine are exempt.

“Under Missouri law, medical equipment is not supposed to be taxed and we see [period products] as a medical necessity,” Butler said.

Butler said ASUM and Period @ Mizzou lobbied to state legislators for legislation that would reduce the tax on menstrual products and incontinence items.

“The biggest pushback we got was that it would be really expensive,” Butler said. “They weren’t necessarily prepared to take on that cost last year.”

ASUM plans to lobby for the bill with Period @ Mizzou again this year.

Also manning a booth at the event was The Peace Nook, a nonprofit Columbia store operated by Peaceworks. Its booth showcased different organic and sustainable period products, which staff member Erica Ascani said are not the average drugstore options.

“We try to support organizations that support other countries where access to period products might not be available,” Ascani said. “The reason why a lot of sustainable or natural products are so expensive is usually because those companies also give a lot of money to countries where periods have even more stigma than [in] the United States.”

Period @ Mizzou will continue its advocacy through its meetings and future events, which include a downtown donation drive and a panel of professionals to address menstruation and related topics.

Edited by Ben Scott | bscott@themaneater.com

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