Advocacy Highlight: Students Speak to Fulton County School Board

This guest blog post was written by Aanika Eragam, student at Milton High School and a Homegirl Project fellow.  On December 3rd, Aanika spoke to the Fulton County School Board about the need for period products in Fulton County Schools.  Prior to that, Aanika  reached out to Georgia STOMP regarding her research and intention to speak to the School Board. We are honored to be connected to such a capable young leader! Watch the video and hear why!

IMG_4767

On December 3, 2019, a coalition of high school students presented a resolution to the Fulton County School Board, requesting a specific policy amendment that would require secondary schools to provide menstrual products free of cost in restrooms. The event was a culmination of collective student outrage stemming from a lack of access to period products in the school setting, an issue that holds grave implications for students’ mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their academic achievement. When products like toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels are available free of cost in all restrooms, students had to ask why menstrual products, which are also considered a basic necessity, are not.

Students explained to the Board how a lack of free-of-cost menstrual products in public schools confiscates the basic dignity of students, disrupts the learning environment for girls, and for those living below the poverty line, leaves them without basic access. Students hope they made a strong case to the Board and placed period poverty on the agenda. They will continue to work towards ensuring accountability through civic engagement at the grassroots level.

 

Spotlight on Period.UGA!

IMG_8676Under the leadership of Chapter President, Jessica Ma, the PERIOD. group at the University of Georgia is thriving and bringing the message of menstrual equity to the campus in Athens.

On November 4th, following Period.UGA’s recent addition as a member, Georgia STOMP leadership updated a roomful of students on the coalition’s work. Questions following the presentation revealed just how informed and prepared to advocate Period.UGA is!

IMG_8683Additionally, these vibrant young women are proving themselves as leaders in the movement to eradicate period poverty. Through on-campus collections and distribution locally to those experiencing homelessness, they work to find new ways to share the message of menstrual equity.

Period.UGA’s recent National Period Day event was brilliantly planned to take advantage of traffic on campus for the Georgia Bulldog’s homecoming game. Georgia STOMP is better due to the work, voice and energy of these coalition partners!

 

 

PERIOD 01

2nd Annual National Summit for Period Poverty Leadership

Claire Cox and Adele Stewart recently attended the Alliance for Period Supplies’ (APS) National Summit for Period Poverty Leadership on October 23rd, 2019. It was the second time the Georgia STOMP coalition attended the summit, though the first time Georgia STOMP was just an idea – not a 15,000 person-strong reality!

At the Summit, Claire and Adele presented the progress made over the last year in Georgia – highlighting the coalition building that led to successful relationships forged with Georgia’s Emergency Management Agency, Department of Corrections, Department of Education, and Department of Public Health.

73307908_540751343153476_2451076099967287296_o

Cheering them on as they presented were two coalition member representatives – Jamie Lackey, CEO of Helping Mamas, and early advocate for the Georgia STOMP pillars, and Andrea Cooke, of Macon Periods Easier fame! Both were able to answer questions by other attendees about their involvement with the coalition, and some of the innovative ways they are addressing product need in Georgia.

Other presentations included incredible data reviews from a disturbing but incredibly meaningful study in St. Louis by Dr. Anne Serbert Kuhlmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., followed by a review of a year’s worth of APS data by Kelley Massengale, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Research and Evaluation at the Diaper Bank of North Carolina. The data from both of these presentations will surely change the advocacy landscape nationwide, highlighting our understanding of menstrual product access.

Look for more insights from the Summit over the coming weeks as we prepare for the 2020 Legislative Session!

Communities in Schools: Fueling Ambition in Schools

Communities in Schools Georgia President and CEO, Carol Lewis, spoke to Georgia STOMP leadership following our presentation and indicated CIS-Georgia’s desire to join the coalition!

IMG_2654

Claire Cox (Georgia STOMP), Carol Lewis (CIS-Ga President and CEO) and Leslie Myles (CIS-Ga Director Programs and Student Support Services)

Georgia STOMP was invited to speak at the Communities in Schools (CIS) Executive Directors’ meeting today in Atlanta, where affiliates from across the state met to plan for the upcoming year.  It was an honor for our coalition to be present as the men and women at the tables dedicate their time ensuring Georgia’s students succeed and reach their potential.

Claire Cox presented about Georgia STOMP’s 4 pillars, focusing on the $1 million in funding that was allocated to the Department of Education for feminine hygiene products. Those present were encouraged to communicate with principals, school nurses, school staff, and community members about the state funding to ensure all school systems know its purpose when the money is released by the State Department of Education and to be prepared to advocate for its continued presence in the budget when the legislature convenes for its 2020 session. All of the Executive Directors were also invited to officially join the Georgia STOMP coalition.

IMG_2655

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.

summitspring2019

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!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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!

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js