“My goal: ending period poverty and dismantling patriarchy.”
What is your work about?
"Power Pad Girls is an intersectional feminist organization. Our main objective is to end period poverty. That concerns women as well as transgender people. If you menstruate, no matter your gender, then you should have access to affordable sanitary products!"
How do you do this?
"We host fundraising events to purchase reusable pads for those students that need them. Youth-friendly reproduction and sexual health workshops are conducted. This includes the right of consent too. Through our continued efforts we are calling on the government to treat menstruating products as health necessities and to provide products to students for free – on the same basis that teenagers are free to receive condoms."
Period poverty is what?
"Period poverty describes the struggles many low-income menstruators face while trying to afford sanitary products. So, many students are missing out on school during their cycles. Many families cannot afford menstrual products, and this too result in the use of unsafe materials among menstruators."
Why is sex education important?
"The aim of sex education is to mee the hygiene needs of all adolescents as a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health. This goes hand-in-hand with teaching bodily autonomy and consent. Sex isn’t a taboo topic. It’s basic biology. If people have comprehensive sexual education, then they are able to actually make informed decisions to keep themselves and others safe."
When do you find your work successful?
"I did a menstruation workshop at school that provides disability-friendly education. The kids that were verbal asked a ton of questions. There were a lot of giggles and smiles among them. It is important to normalize menstruation and destroy taboos around the natural process and address students concerns or questions with all sincerity. I felt proud as a Power Pad Girl that we are an intersectional organization."
Which book would you like to place on the shelves of every school?
"Animal Farm by George Orwell."
"The book depicts how problematic society can be when people place themselves above others."
In your opinion, what is the key in achieving equal rights for all genders?
"Honestly, dismantling the patriarchy worldwide. It serves no purpose and has always been problematic."
"I think a lot of countries face similar problems. Especially when they hold onto problematic cultural practices that cause social and gender inequality. Justice and equality don’t equate to being 'western'. Gender inequality as the norm is outdated."
What support would you need to do your work better?
"To eradicate period poverty. Obtaining government support to provide sanitary pads, support policies that protect students who menstruate and to fund sanitary products in school bathrooms across the country."
If you could be president for one day what would you do?
"Since it’s only for one day I would love to be able to give money, food, and shelter to those that currently don’t have it. Not just enough for the day, hopefully for a few months at least until a more long-term solution is found. I would also allocate money to improve the education facilities in as many remote and rural areas that so often get neglected. I would legalize sex work, same-sex marriage and make sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) laws inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community as well. There’s so much more I could do but I think in one day that’s a good amount of work.”
Martha Herman is a creative soul with a passion for social justice and has lived on four continents. She is the co-founder of the Power Pad Girls.