“It only costs about $4.67 per female student for schools to provide female students with sanitary products for the entire school year. So, in other words, for the price of a footlong at Subway or a really fancy cup of coffee at Starbucks, schools could provide their students with menstrual hygiene products for a year. I challenge you to stand with me and support young women with the resources we need to manage our periods.” –Bridget McManamon, Moorhead High School in Moorhead, MN
Mary Cait McManamon, a student at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire proudly shared the following information about her sister Bridget’s mission:
“Two years ago, my sister applied for a girls leadership conference. Her essay topic was something most 15 year old girls have been trained never to talk about…her period! This caught their attention, and she was off to New York for a conference with other young girls from around the country. Since then, she has started a charitable organization called Herstory, which provides menstrual hygiene kits to schools, homeless shelters, rape and abuse crisis centers, and jails. She has even sent some abroad.
These kits are stocked with tampons, pads, deodorant, underwear and many other essentials to help women deal with that time of the month. Now a senior in high school, Bridget has hosted events in our community, including Period Packing Parties, where she and her friends put the kits together. This past July, she was asked to speak at TedX Fargo about her important message!”
A 2016 HERlead Fellow and Grantee, Bridget dedicates herself to erasing the stigma surrounding menstruation through conversation, service, and education. Her HERlead Project, Herstory, educates boys and girls on sexual and menstrual health as well as provides feminine hygiene kits throughout the year. In July, Bridget spoke at TEDxFargo to raise awareness for these issues, gain support from her community, and educate more people on the stigma surrounding women’s menstrual cycles and women’s health injustices overall.
Bridget notes, “We live in a society that heavily stigmatizes periods, makes them an expense that some young women even in our own community cannot afford. Periods are expensive. For lower income families, the cost of purchasing supplies can be more than they can afford. For example, in the public school districts of our community, there are currently 1473 female middle and high school students eligible for free and reduced lunch, meaning they can’t always afford food let alone their own emergency supply of menstrual hygiene products.”
While it should be acknowledged that public schools are required to have a limited supply of menstrual hygiene products at the disposal of their students, these products are often hidden away in a dark cabinet in the nurse’s office. Visiting the nurse can often be an embarrassing experience, especially if there are other students in the office. Bridget refers to her own period as “Lucifer’s Waterfall,” or “Shark Week,” and is determined to succeed in her battle to make menstrual hygiene products free and accessible to students.
Herstory seeks to increase access to menstrual hygiene products, empower young women to have a better understanding of their physical well being, and increase their confidence and ability to access leadership opportunities within their schools and communities.
You can follow Bridget and Herstory on Instagram @herstoryfmwf. She currently partners with 8 local non profits and several international distribution sites to deliver kits each month.
Watch Bridget’s Ted Talk!
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