By Laraib Asim
In the U.S. alone, 16.9 million people who menstruate live in poverty. As SUNY Plattsburgh celebrates Women’s History month, the Women In Leadership club turned its focus toward the people who do not have access to proper menstrual hygiene products, because they can’t afford them, by placing donation boxes all around the campus for the month.
The donation boxes are located in the residential halls and the H.U.B., which is accessible for students living off campus. The H.U.B which stands for Honoring, Unifying and Belonging is located in the Angell College Center and is a part of the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It is open to everyone from students, staff, alumni as well as the local community.
Paolo Alba Jimenez, the president of the Women in Leadership club, spoke on behalf of all members of the club stating that the club aims to give back to our community in a meaningful way.
“We decided to collect hygiene products for the people that menstruation so that we can donate it to a shelter or anybody that needs it,” Jimenez said.
They are urging college students to help fellow people who require menstrual products which includes a wide array of things such as pads, tampons and new underwear. Only nine out of 50 U.S. states do not tax menstrual products, which makes it difficult to afford the basic hygiene necessities, especially for those living in poverty.
“Products for people’s menstrual cycle is way over taxed. If condoms are freely available at the health center, why aren’t pads [available for free]?” asked Chitra Thomas, a social work major.
The club took care to create an inclusive environment for all those who menstruate including women, non-binary people and transgender people. They plan on donating to the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women’s Mental Health Shelter in NYC and are encouraging students to use the products if they are in need of it and cannot afford it.
“I think it is extremely effective because the college campus is so big that there are so many people who are willing to donate,” Chitra said about the project. “The people that are organizing this have the connections to give these products to people who genuinely need it.”
Chitra has contributed to Women In Leadership’s drive by donating pads and tampons.
“We are actively recruiting and contacting other clubs and organizations such as fraternities and sororities to involve them in our activities. We have contacted the student involvement as well as the H.U.B.,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez is optimistic about the turnover of the donated products. The club makes rounds at the end of each week to collect donations and to ensure there is space for future donations. So far they have received over 20 individual pads and 15 boxes of pads.
“Everybody has the whole month to put their donations in since we are celebrating Women’s History Month for the whole month, and we are also going to be very involved on campus with events and other activities,” Jimenez said.
The club has hosted different events such as “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Panel” and spreading awareness regarding the achievements of women over the years. On March 8, they collaborated with Fuerza: The Black and Latinx Student Union, and invited all students to wear purple as a sign of unity and love on Women’s Day.