Gwinnett & North Fulton County Junior League Town Hall

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Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero, Rep. Sam Park and Claire Cox

The Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton County (JLGNF) is preparing itself for the upcoming legislative session! In a Town Hall Tuesday night, Georgia STOMP representative, Claire Cox, gave an update on the coalition’s work towards menstrual equity and elimination of period poverty in Georgia.

League members were fully engaged in the conversation, expressing gratitude for progress to date, and pledging to participate in efforts to pass HB8 in the 2020 session. Additionally, questions and discussion centered on assuring existing funding for school girls remains in next year’s state budget, and making sure girls in Juvenile Justice facilities have adequate supplies.

Following Georgia STOMP’s presentation, SPAC Delegate Regina Matthews posed questions to two Representatives from Districts where JLGNF members reside. After a question about HB8, Rep. Sam Park and Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero brought updates on other legislative matters including maternal mortality, sex trafficking, the economic effects of the Governor’s mandated budget cuts, healthcare and medicaid expansion.

Georgia STOMP is grateful to JLGNF, Regina Matthews, and League President Jennifer Wallace for the invitation to spread our message and for allotting valuable meeting time for this purpose.

If your group is interested in a presentation, get in touch soon!

Together, let’s get ready for the 2020 Session!

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Gwinnett and North Fulton County Junior League members with Rep. Sam Park, Sen. P. K. Martin and Claire Cox

 

Always Names Macon Periods Easier a “Period Hero”

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In a celebratory press conference Thursday, Georgia STOMP coalition member, Macon Periods Easier announced “Macon is one of five cities nationwide – and the only one in Georgia – that will be receiving national help to address lack of menstrual supplies and fight period poverty. The work of Macon Periods Easier (MPE) has drawn the attention of Always, a global menstrual care brand, which is donating 35,000 feminine care pads to the organization that it calls one of the “Period Heroes” leading efforts to end period poverty for school-aged girls in their communities.”

Macon Periods Easier now distributes products in every Bibb County public school, as well as to recreation centers and the local health department.

Nationally recognized Superintendent of Bibb County School District, Dr. Curtis Jones, was present to acknowledge the importance of this work and supplying menstrual products in school.

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2019 National School Superintendent of the Year Dr. Curtis Jones

Speaking of his numerous years involved in public schools, including 10 years as a Superintendent, Jones said, “the best way for students to be successful is to be in school and one of my jobs is to get all the barriers out of the way.”  In speaking of Bibb County’s effort to increase its graduation rate to 90% by 2025, he continued, “this effort is one of the additional partnerships that we have that I think will make us be successful” and to the young women present in the audience at the press conference, he turned and said, “You don’t have to stay home. We have support for you.”

Congratulations to Macon Periods Easier for a highly successful year! Georgia STOMP is proud to work with coalition members who demonstrate menstrual products provided in schools DO make a difference in the ability for young women to learn and be valuable, productive members of their communities.

Extra extra, read all about it!

Opponents of Ga. ‘tampon tax’ vow to press lawmakers in 2020

When tweeting out a link to the Georgia Recorder’s coverage of #HB8 and the money allocated to the Georgia DOE and DPH, author Jill Nolin (Twitter: @jillnolin) noted that, “The $1.5 million in the state budget for menstrual products could see a trim. Advocates are urging the state’s budget writers to not just leave the funds alone but to also come back next year and rethink the sales tax on these products.”

We are grateful for the coverage, not only to some of Georgia STOMP’s pillars of work, but of member organizations like Macon Periods Easier! Check out the link at the top for a great read.feminine-hygiene-products_Macon-school.jpg

Update from National Congressional Leader in Menstrual Equity: Congresswoman Grace Meng (New York)

The Georgia STOMP coalition recently received this update from the office of Congresswoman Grace Meng – Queens, New York.

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2019

MENG SECURES PROVISIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who has championed menstrual equity issues in Congress, announced today that she has secured even more provisions to make menstrual hygiene products more accessible to women and girls. These measures were included across several fiscal year 2020 spending packages that recently passed the House of Representatives. They consist of the following items:

  • Instructing the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide guidance on the agency’s distribution of menstrual hygiene products to incarcerated women. While the BOP is required by law to provide free menstrual products to prisoners, there remains serious concerns on the continued inconsistency and inaccessibility of these products for all prisoners in BOP custody. Furthermore, in response to reports of pervasive and demeaning methods of product distribution, each prisoner would now determine for themselves what is of sufficient quantity – therein, empowering prisoners. The measure also ensures that nobody is prohibited from visiting an incarcerated individual due to the visitor’s use of menstrual hygiene products. Lastly, this provision puts in place reporting requirements to ensure oversight of full implementation of this policy.
  • Directing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to ensure free menstrual hygiene products are made available in public female, unisex, and family restrooms in all VA facilities. There are concerns that not all VA facilities have committed to their own VHA directive with regards to these products and their accessibility. The provision also includes a reporting requirement on the full distribution and implementation.
  • Directing the Office on Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to commission a study on the usage of, type, preferences, and  frequency in changing different menstrual hygiene products by race and socioeconomic status. The study would help provide accurate and reliable data on the usage of – and preferences for – different types of menstrual hygiene products. Presently, this type of comprehensive data does not exist.
  • Directing the Administrator of U.S. Aid for International Development (USAID) to issue an updated report on how its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programs ensure the availability of menstrual hygiene products. The goal of WASH programs is to promote global public health through access to clean water, sufficient sanitation, and proper hygiene, and providing safe menstrual hygiene products to women and girls abroad must be a key component of these initiatives. The report would also include recommendations on how USAID could improve its management of investments in this area.

In addition to the above items, Meng is continuing to push the Menstrual Equity for All Act, a bill she introduced earlier this year that is the first comprehensive measure to address the different challenges that women and girls face in affording and accessing menstrual hygiene products. The Congresswoman is also sponsoring the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act which would require companies to list the ingredients in menstrual hygiene products; the Menstrual Hygiene Products in Federal Buildings Act which would require menstrual items to be available in U.S. government buildings; and a resolution to recognize Menstrual Hygiene Day. In addition, she recently testified about her legislative efforts before two House committees.

“Access to safe, affordable menstrual hygiene products is a basic need and a health care right for over half the population,” said Meng. “It is a human right, which is why I will do everything I can to ensure these items are accessible to all who need them. One’s dignity cannot be comprised or diminished for these life essential items. It has been a privilege to lead the menstrual equity fight in Congress, and I will remain fiercely committed to this effort until every woman and girl has access to these necessary products.”

Meng’s provisions were included in several different appropriations bills including Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; State and Foreign Operations; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

Contact Information for Meng’s office: Jordan Goldes, 718-445-7861

Call Your School Nurse: State DOE Approves Distribution of $1M For Menstrual Products

On Thursday, August 22nd, the State Board of Education approved the Department of Education’s proposal for distributing the $1M budget expenditure authorized by the legislature in the 2019 Session!

According to Board Documents, 

these grant funds were provided in the Georgia Department of Education Agency budget as a line item for fiscal year 2020 to provide feminine hygiene products to low-income students.”  

To us, that one sentence is the culmination of two years of advocacy work and is just the beginning of what is needed!

A glance at the chart showing the Grant Allocations quickly reveals that allocated amounts seem low, given that some systems received as little as $50.00.  Nevertheless, Georgia is a national menstrual equity leader, by allocating any money at all towards this need.  

It is now a role of the Georgia STOMP coalition to get the message to as many school nurses as possible. They need to know that this money exists and they should contact their Superintendent to find out how it will be allocated in their district!

According to Board documents, again, “An end of year survey will be conducted” to ensure satisfactory performance and “accounting codes for this budget item will be tracked in GAORS.”  The performance measurements will be “based on distribution of products and percentage of product remaining at the end of the school year.”

If the information we have collected is correct, that amount should be NONE if school nurses actually know this money exists!

Call your local school nurse today and let them know to ask their Superintendent for the money!

 

Women and Girls’ Policy Stakeholder Roundtable

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The Women and Girls’ Policy Stakeholder Roundtable is an Atlanta gathering committed to improving the lives of women and girls in Georgia. It is hosted twice a year by the YWCA of Greater ATL. Numerous organizations reflect together on the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of the past legislative session and communicate each group’s advocacy plans, facilitating collaborations for the next year. Georgia STOMP was honored to be the focus presentation for this summer’s gathering! 

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On Friday, August 16th, Claire Cox, Georgia STOMP co-lead, updated the gathering on the growth of our statewide coalition and our mission to address period poverty and menstrual equity in Georgia.  There were many nods of agreement as Claire related that a general lack of understanding about women’s menstrual needs has led to inequity not just in our tax base, but in institutions and public spaces across the state.

The morning meant Claire, based in Macon, was able to meet coalition member leaders and other contacts who she had only “met” via telephone conference. In other instances, new organizations expressed interest in knowing more about the work of Georgia STOMP.

It was an inspiring and energizing morning and hopefully a new point of growth for the Coalition!

 

 

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Georgia STOMP can come to you!

Would your group like to hear about the work of Georgia STOMP?

If you are only recently learning about the issues of Period Poverty and Menstrual Equity: don’t worry, you are not alone! For those who have never struggled to purchase menstrual products, the realization that numerous women and young girls can’t afford this basic need can be overwhelming. And if you’ve never thought about why menstrual products haven’t been considered “basic needs” by emergency management agencies or sales tax codes, and aren’t provided in public restrooms the same as soap and toilet paper are, the idea of Menstrual Equity is new to you!

Georgia STOMP is working with organizations, policy-makers, and advocates across the state to ensure that menstruation ceases to be a barrier to an equitable society.

Leaders of Georgia STOMP are available to speak to your group or organization about Period Poverty, Menstrual Equity and the legislative and advocacy work we have undertaken, including a great many successes already accomplished!

The following is an excerpt from a report made by Rev. Nana’ Kratochvil, V. P. and Program Chair for the League of Women Voters in Macon following a recent program by Georgia STOMP.

Claire Cox, one of the leaders of Georgia Women (and Those Who Stand With Us), brought her passion and advocacy to the League of Women Voters at their regular meeting on April 17th. She shared with us the work Georgia Women is doing to bring fairness and justice to women.  Georgia STOMP (Stop Tax on Menstrual Products) is a coalition working to eliminate taxes on women’s health products.  Cox told us of the difficult choices faced by poor families when their daughters reached the age of first menses. If the choice to buy food is made, their daughters are unable to attend school, or made do with home made substitutes for pads, tampons or menstrual cups.  Several organizations are donating supplies to schools and shelters, but a better, fairer answer must be found. The products would be more affordable is their price did not include a sales tax.

Ms. Cox shared with members of the League the successful attempts to find sponsors for the bill that was introduced to the Georgia Legislature that would eliminate sales taxes on these products. She traced the fate of the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Although it was not successful this session, a cadre of legislators is now awakened to the need for such a bill.  Georgia Women and their Allies will work for its success at the next session.

Members of the League appreciated Ms. Cox’s presentation.  Some members are already participating in the activities of Georgia Women, and others are interested. We look forward to working together in the future.

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