Georgia STOMP Spring Summit Meeting

On Tuesday, May 21, members of the Georgia STOMP Coalition met for the Spring Summit Meeting. Progress from the 2019 Legislative Session and plans for future successes were discussed. New faces were welcomed to the table, including Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, Laura Register of LBR Consulting, and Kimberlyn Carter from Reform Georgia. Two new coalition member organizations were represented: Andrea Cooke, of Macon Periods Easier, and Sylvia McGee, of the Macon, Georgia Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

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Followers of the coalition can expect another year of broad ranging advocacy in the areas of period poverty and menstrual equity.

  • addressing period poverty and its effects on the education of women in our state’s public schools.
  • working with state, local, and county agencies to ensure menstrual products are available in adequate supply for incarcerated women and girls.
  • vigorously pursuing the elimination of state sales tax on menstrual products, holding that it is a minimum that can be done to address menstrual equity in Georgia.
  • continuing our successful collaboration with Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to facilitate distribution of menstrual products in light of GEMA’s addition of period supplies to their list of basic necessities which grant funds can be used to purchase.

Member organizations appreciate the support followers and advocates have given to the Georgia STOMP initiatives, and look forward to ensuring that the coming months build upon past progress in bringing menstrual equity and an end to period poverty to Georgia.

 

 

 

Women’s History Month + Menstruation: Highlight from Georgia Highlands College

On March 20, Georgia Highlands College (GHC) celebrated Women’s History Month by having Georgia STOMP Co-Lead Adele Stewart come and speak about menstrual equity and period poverty in Georgia. Students, faculty, and staff attended. Notably present were students of a sociology class, and the discussion focused on how menstrual equity relates to their studies of gender and politics.

The talk was organized by Julia Areh, the Douglasville Instructional Site Director for GHC. She had recently been involved in a period product drive conducted by the Junior League of Douglas County, of which she is a member. As part of GHC’s Women’s History Month celebrations, Areh also coordinated a successful period product drive. The products students, faculty, and staff collected are now being stored in GHC’s food pantry, where they will be easily accessible to those who need them.

The effects have rippled out of the class and discussion to more of the GHC community. “Since (Georgia STOMP’s) visit, I’ve overheard many conversations about menstrual equity,  period poverty and how we all can support menstruators,” Areh reports. “Last Sunday I was running errands and ran into one of our Dual Enrollment students who was present at the presentation. She told me she’s been talking to her family and friends about what she learned.”

The power of removing the harmful stigma on menstruation and talking publicly about what menstrual equity means is significant, and vital for progress. Without these conversations, we likely would still be in the dark about period poverty in our communities, and wouldn’t be able to highlight stories of organizations like GHC who are improving the lives of menstruators by taking a stand to increase access and affordability of necessary menstrual supplies.

Thank you, GHC, for hosting Georgia STOMP!

If you or your group wants to engage in the menstrual equity conversation, email GeorgiaSTOMP@gmail.com to discuss a presentation!

 

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What #PeriodProgress Looks Like

#PeriodProgress looks like boxes upon boxes of menstrual products passing through the security gate at the Georgia State Capitol building

#PeriodProgress looks like leaders of state-wide government organizations standing in support of menstrual product access

#PeriodProgress looks like the terms ‘period poverty’ and ‘menstrual equity’ being broadcast in the Rotunda

#PeriodProgress looks like a diverse group of state delegates and advocates showing up on a rainy Tuesday to talk about #periodpoverty and #menstrualequity

#PeriodProgress looks like the elimination of the state sales tax on menstrual products, and continued efforts to ensure that those products are safe, accessible, and affordable.

Ask your State Representative to support House Bill 8, today!

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Macon Periods Easier

A Guest Blog Submitted by Andrea Cooke,

Member of Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us)


On Tuesday night, February 5th, a group of concerned citizens gathered together to listen and learn about how they could help to put an end to period poverty. Several of the people in the room expressed their lack of knowledge about the issue and were not sure about what it was exactly, but they knew they needed to find a way to be of assistance.

Soon after we introduced ourselves we quieted to listen to Claire Cox, the convener of the meeting and the president of Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us).  Almost immediately we could sense the passion that consumed Claire when she began to give us a complete history of how she became aware of this pertinent issue and what Georgia Women and Georgia STOMP had done to begin the work of ending the sales tax associated with feminine hygiene products.

We then watched a powerful story about a girl who faced barriers in the accessibility of feminine hygiene products.  This young girl did not feel that her family could afford the high expense of the products and was glad that she had a resource in her school, that helped fill in the gaps.  The video highlighted a program called the Homeless Period Project, and the story the director told about what wonderful work they do began to help us all to see just why we were there.  As I sat in the room, teary-eyed watching the short video, I noticed very quickly that I was not the only one who was moved.  This was the pivotal moment that solidified for me that I would need to do something, and I feel that the passion displayed in the video was quietly motivating others to activate something inside themselves as well.

Next, we listened to the founder of Helping Mamas, Jamie Lackey, out of Norcross, Georgia.  She’d driven down to speak to us in person about the amazing work she was doing by operating a baby bank and as a result of this work she’d began the work of “helping to connect mamas to mamas needing help!”  It is a wonderful concept and hearing about her passion was certainly contagious.  She shared with us about her willingness to share information and how we could stay connected.

After Claire stated clearly that she was so excited about this movement, she also made it clear that she was sufficiently booked in the realm of taking up causes and she offered us the opportunity to do what we could to help.  Several people spoke up and as a result of that call to action we have now created a leadership team!

…and just like that, we are doing something to help end period poverty in our community!

I challenge all those who read this, regardless of your need for the period products, to pick up a pack next time you go to the store and donate them; it just might make the difference for a girl or woman, who may be choosing between a pad or a meal…

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Abby Nobles, Paula del Rio, Sally Hemingway, Ruth Brooks, Andrea Cooke, Claire Cox

Meet The Author: Allison Yarrow

 

On Monday, November 5th, a crowd gathered at Congregation Sha’arey Israel in central Georgia to hear Macon native, now award winning journalist, Allison Yarrow, discuss the research compiled in her book 90’s Bitch: Media Culture and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality. Yarrow is an award-winning journalist and National Magazine Award finalist who has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, and many other publications. She was a TED resident and is a grantee of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She produced the VICE documentary Misconception and has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC, NPR, and more. The engaging conversation was timely in light of the current political climate, the #metoo movement, and the controversial Kavanaugh hearing.

Attendees were requested to bring period supply products for local students as Claire Cox, President of Georgia Women spoke to the audience about Period Poverty and Period Equity issues in the state of Georgia. Those gathered were among the first to know that, although Georgia STOMP’s work began as an effort to eliminate sales tax from menstrual products in Georgia, the focus has grown, and while it still includes, tax elimination, we now seek to advocate on behalf of students missing school because of period poverty, inmates not being given the supplies they need, and for the needs of ALL of our citizens to be supplied in public facilities. Claire asked the audience, “have you thought about the fact that we provide soap and water and TP, but not what women need? Or did you know that period poverty is real here in the US, not just overseas?”

The Georgia STOMP logo was first unveiled and dozens of packages of pads and tampons were collected to distribute to students in Bibb County public schools, a school system with such a high rate of poverty among its students that the system maintains a 100% qualification level for the Free & Reduced Lunch program. As Claire reminded the audience, “If a young woman can’t afford food, she almost certainly cannot afford menstrual products.”

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Georgia STOMP Coalition Stakeholders Attend National Summit for Period Leadership

October is a busy month – completing work before the holidays, getting out the vote (vote! vote! vote!), ongoing advocacy initiatives, the list goes on! One thing is for certain: our coalition works hard to take every opportunity to gather, learn, and re-energize.

On October 24, we were able to do so at the first-ever National Summit for Period Leadership, hosted by the Alliance for Period Supplies. Our coalition was lucky to have organizers and advocates from all over the US attend this event – hosted in our very own capital city #ATL! Alongside the other 100+ attendees, we were able to learn talking points and best practices from organizations who have been busy advocating for and meeting the basic hygienic needs of those in their communities.

National Summit Stakeholders and APS Members

Board members of the Alliance for Period Supplies, allied organizations, and some of our coalition members after the Summit.

We were able to learn about how organizations approach distributing products in institutions, like schools or homeless shelters, and how researchers at UNC are addressing the dearth of studies present in the literature about anything related to menstruation or access to period supplies.  We learned that there’s really a difference between feminine hygiene products and menstrual hygiene products when used academically (products used for douching vs. products used to manage periods, respectively). We also learned about poverty as a whole, including temporary or situational poverty, something many of our fellow Georgians are unfortunately experiencing in the wake of the recent Hurricanes. Particularly of interest to our group was how poverty makes managing one’s period even more difficult – in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect!

After the summit, we sat down as a group with some leaders in the space working to #EndPeriodPoverty. One of the most beautiful parts of advocacy work, we are finding, is the amount of help organizations are willing to give one another to in order to change the status quo. We surely wouldn’t be where we are as a coalition without it!

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We look forward to updating you after our Georgia STOMP stakeholders meet in November to plan for our upcoming year. Until then, Happy Fall Y’all!