Georgia STOMP’s Newest Coalition Member: GCADV

Georgia STOMP is thrilled to welcome the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) to our coalition! Their expertise in collaboration, advocacy, education and empowerment is a welcomed addition to the Georgia STOMP network. If you aren’t familiar with their organization, their website is linked here.

The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence envisions a Georgia free of domestic violence.  They empower survivors and the programs that serve them, educate the public, and advocate for responsive public policy.

Survivors of domestic violence aren’t simply survivors – they are community members. To only talk about survivors in terms of the domestic violence they’ve experienced ignores their wholeness and disregards the range of identities that they carry and navigate the world through; reality is so much bigger, brighter, and deeper. As the GCADV joins Georgia STOMP’s coalition, they bring an incredibly robust understanding of what challenges survivors face, and are helping to paint the picture of other ways Georgia can ensure survivors are able to thrive in our state. We are grateful to have them, and look forward to sharing successes with you as our ranks continue to grow!

Update from the Department of Public Health

Wednesday, June 5th, Georgia STOMP coalition co-leads, Claire Cox and Adele Stewart, received an update from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Current DPH distribution plans for menstrual products purchased with the $500,000 allocated in the 2020 state budget are summarized below:

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  • Local community health departments (CHDs) will be able to order menstrual products using existing purchasing procedures for health products supplied by the Department of Public Health.
  • CHDs will be encouraged to start the fiscal year with a supply of a variety of products on their shelves, and order according to community need.
  • Recipients of the products will receive three months’ worth of menstrual products at each visit to DPH, to alleviate the burden of finding transportation.
  • The DPH will assess the distribution at both a mid-year point and at the end of the year.

Georgia STOMP looks forward to learning from the DPH’s program, and is grateful to work alongside them in the pursuit of improved menstrual product access.

Georgia STOMP Coalition Members Meet with the Department of Education

In light of the $1 million allocated in the 2020 budget during the 2019 Legislative Session, on Thursday, May 30, Georgia STOMP coalition members attended a meeting at the Georgia Department of Education to discuss the grant process.

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From Left to Right: Krista Lowe, Sylvia McGee, Therese McGuire, Dr. Bethany Caruso, Adele Stewart, Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, and Claire Cox. Not pictured: Allan Meyer

Georgia STOMP coalition members were excited to learn about plans for the grant money from Georgia DOE representatives: Allan Meyer, Director of Policy, Krista Lowe, Program Manager for Residential Treatment Facilities, and Therese McGuire, Health and Physical Education Program Specialist.

Thank you to the legislators and advocates who made this program possible. Georgia is on track to be a national leader in the campaign to understand and address period product need in schools. Stay tuned for program updates over the coming months!

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.

 

 

 

Georgia, A National Leader in Inmate Menstrual Product Access

“Toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons will also be readily available to offenders in the housing units. The Sanitation Officer will ensure daily that the hygiene cabinet in each dorm is stocked with toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons always.”

At our February press conference, Period Progress, Georgia STOMP honored Commissioner Tim Ward for his leadership in policy changes related to menstrual product access at Georgia Department of Correction (GDC) facilities. We recently received a copy of GDC’s  Feminine Hygiene Items Issuance Policy.  Additionally, GDC Director of Female Services, Pamela Wiggins, provided Georgia STOMP  pictures of supply cabinets available “on every dorm within all Female Prisons, Transitional Centers and Probation Detention Centers.” Admittedly, we have never been so excited to see a stack of tampons and pads!

This policy is a welcome step towards all Georgia women being treated with dignity and acceptance and greater normalization of the natural, healthy nature of menstruation.

With the institution of this policy, protections now exist for women in the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Georgia Department of Correction facilities. Georgia STOMP now turns our focus to county and local jails and juvenile justice facilities.

 

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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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Menstrual Equity for All Act, and how it relates to Georgia

It’s estimated that up to 86% of women use tampons, up to 72% use pads, and 75% use panty liners. Most premenopausal women use menstrual hygiene products on a monthly basis and it is estimated that a woman will use up to 16,000 tampons in her lifetime. Regardless of income, women spend a significant amount of money on purchasing menstruation hygiene products each year.

Beyond being cost-prohibitive, different populations of women and girls face unique challenges in accessing menstrual hygiene products. 

That’s the language Representative Grace Meng (D-NY-6) uses to invite her colleagues and advocates to join her in the fight for menstrual equity. At the end of March, she introduced House Resolution 1882. Georgia’s own Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-4) is one of the 43 cosponsors to date. With the stated goal “to increase the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products for individuals with limited access, and for other purposes,” the bill is ambitious.

Its text addresses a few of the pillars that make up Georgia STOMP’s primary work:

  1. Giving states the option to use federal grant funds to provide students with free menstrual hygiene products in schools;
  2. Ensuring that inmates and detainees incarcerated in federal (including immigration detention centers), state, and local facilitates have access to free menstrual hygiene products;
  3. Allowing homeless assistance providers to use grant funds that cover shelter necessities (such as blankets and toothbrushes) to also use those funds to purchase menstrual hygiene products;
  4. Allowing individuals to use their own pre-tax dollars from their health flexible spending accounts to purchase menstrual hygiene products;
  5. Requiring that Medicaid covers the cost of menstrual hygiene products for recipients;
  6. Directing large employers (with 100 or more employees) to provide free menstrual hygiene products for their employees in the workplace; and
  7. Requiring all public federal buildings, including buildings on the Capitol campus, provide free menstrual hygiene products in the restrooms.

Helen Beaudreau, Legislative Director for Meng’s office, states that the goal of the legislation is to address the multifaceted issue of menstrual equity under a single banner. “(Rep. Meng) wants to make sure that affordability and accessibility is achieved across all communities in need.”

If you’ve been following along with our work, you’ll know that our coalition has been fortunate to have successes in working with statewide departments to achieve similar goals.

  1. We championed access to period products for students, and will be at the table with the Department of Education as they develop the grant process to distribute the $1 million added to the budget this year for low income schools to provide free menstrual products to their students.
  2. We’ve established a relationship with the Department of Corrections, and are grateful to have Commissioner Tim Ward supporting unlimited free menstrual product access in state-run prisons, but still have work to do in regards to menstrual product access in local, county and juvenile detention centers.
  3. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has been a wonderful advocate, improving access to menstrual products for those experiencing situational poverty following an emergency or disaster. Director Homer Bryson swiftly made administrative changes to include menstrual products in the list of basic needs supplies that shelters receiving GEMA funds can purchase with that money. They continue to work to ensure that supply chain logistics are in place so that those who experience homelessness, like our fellow Georgians have after Hurricane Michael, will receive the assistance they need in the short AND long term. Director Bryson recently met with coalition partner, Helping Mamas, to discuss supply chain issues.

We are excited to see the other areas that Rep. Meng and HR 1882’s cosponsors will be addressing with this bill. One of the arguments used against House Bill 8 this year was that not all federal institutions account for the fact that menstrual products are an essential purchase in order for women to participate in society and their education.

We are hopeful that HR 1882’s addition to the menstrual equity conversation helps show employers and federal institutions alike that menstrual product access is a great investment. Perhaps it will help our lawmakers understand the same thing in Georgia.