By Angelica Diaz
Women in the United States spend $78.6 million on feminine hygiene products a year, according to “The Pink Bill,” a piece of Ohio legislation that passed in December 2018.
Women with little resources struggle to buy feminine hygiene products every month, which is why Mary Rodack, a sophomore journalism student and president of the Women in Honors Association, said her group created a drive for feminine hygiene products.
Rodack said she was inspired to start the feminine hygiene drive because people usually donate food and clothing to organizations, but don’t donate women’s hygiene products.
“It is important for people who are less fortunate or low income to receive the necessary support,” Rodack said. “It is not a luxury item — even though it is taxed like one. People need our help and we should be able to help them.”
“I just want to bring awareness that this is an issue for many woman on campus, around the community and everywhere,” she added. “It is a universal issue. It is something we should not be ashamed of. I want to normalize it. Hopefully, it will bring help to more people.”
Rodack said the drive has been a great experience for her group of twenty students.
“I do plan on doing them more in the future,” she said. “Our last drive helped women out and so will this one, which is the ultimate goal.”
Rodack said the students in her group will donate the products to the Young Women Christian Association in downtown Youngstown.
Molly Toth, public relations and advocacy manager for the local YWCA, said the drive is an “excellent step in the right direction.”
She said the YWCA provides 102 units of affordable housing with women who will benefit from the drive. The YWCA serves about 375 women a year.
“We have families, single women, women who are coming out of domestic violence experiences and we have families with children as well,” Toth said. “People tend to overlook things like hygiene products. It goes under the radar.”
“If you don’t have the proper hygiene it makes it hard to find a job,” she added. “It can make it hard to go to school, go to class, so we know that these things are things that people are in need of. We are really grateful for any support that help us meet people’s needs in those areas.”
Allison Leone, freshman business student, said menstruation can be an embarrassing topic, especially for young women.
“It’s not a conversation a lot of people want to have,” Leone said.
She said women’s hygiene products can be expensive and can become a problem for women with little resources.
Leone said she normally spends around $20 to $30 a month for personal hygiene products, and she still lives at home and her mother helps her with her expenses.
“It should be more openly talked about. We shouldn’t be ashamed of it,” Leone said. “It’s a necessity and you have to have them. It’s something that all women have to go through. I don’t think it should be as expensive as it is.”
Anyone interested in becoming part of the Women in Honors Association can contact Mary Rodack at firstname.lastname@example.org.