While we like to call ourselves Green Feminine Hygiene Queens when it comes to specifically defining our fierce woman mission of providing healthy organic and natural feminine hygiene products, we reign our commonwealth for women’s health in the good company of others who we like to share about via our monthly Fierce Women blog series. This month we’re excited to be crowning a fierce woman who’s had the most clear, consistent and motivating voice in working to eliminate the #tampontax. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf has spent the past year and a half advocating for what’s grown in to a larger movement that’s not just about a tax anymore but rather a brilliant term she coined and that everyone’s talking about – menstrual equity.
After participating in an inspiring New Year’s day polar bear plunge event with her lady friends and getting an article published by the New York Times regarding her thoughts and research on the chilling revelation she had about the lapses in policies in support of #healthymenstruation, Jennifer knew she had found her calling. Given the success she’s had in her efforts thus far, you would think this something she’s studied or worked on for a long time. Nope, a little over a year ago she used strategies similar to those we suggested in our recent piece about Making Your Voice Heard and now she’s the voice behind a national movement. Just as powerfully, she first learned about the injustices she’s been crusading about via a group of girls who were up to the same with their organization called Girls Helping Girls Period.
In already being an accomplished lawyer and devoted mother and wife who’s in love with her job as Vice President of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, you would think she has enough on her plate. The best part about her work though is that she’s just getting started, it’s snowballing in to addressing many other women’s social justice issues and we’re willing to bet justice will be served!
What does menstrual equity mean?
If you’re as stumped by her mission as the reporter that sparked Jennifer’s first public dubbing of this term, here’s the definition in Jennifer’s own words: “Menstrual equity means that to be an equal member of society, to be a student, a productive employee, to walk down the street without blood running down your pants, you need access to feminine hygiene products and for people who can’t afford them it denies them the ability to be active and productive citizens.”
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might find it hard to believe that such a natural phenomenon has the need for its own movement. You’re most likely part of an educated fleet of consumers that found your way to a healthy and accessible alternative, but 42 million women in the United States are living on or below the poverty line; that’s one third of the female population who is making $47,000.00 or less a year for a family of four or more, which means when it comes to having to choose between buying a box of tampons or food for her family, I’m sure you know what any selfless mother would do!
What’s next for the menstrual equity movement?
Although there is still a ways to go with getting all states on board with eliminating the tampon tax, we’re looking ahead at what’s next in a movement that’s uncovered many gender biases. We weren’t surprised when Jennifer told us what she thinks is next – “the provision of products for free in places where needed most … schools, shelters, corrections facilities, public buildings and agencies.” It’s a need that’s been well documented to provide results when addressed accordingly. We’re seeing a growing number of fierce women talking about their results and thoughts in this realm, such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s #LetGirlsLearn initiative and our own last Fierce Woman of the Month’s solution to menstrual shaming in schools in Rwanda! We also launched The Healthy Hygiene Project, which provides free products and dynamic lesson plans on menstrual health to schools and educators willing to join the movement!
So when will policy follow? Well, leave it to the Queen of Menstrual Equity to have already rallied local New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland in to the conversation. In just a short amount of time, these two fierce women put in to a place a program in 25 New York City Schools that will provide free tampons to students. They started the pilot program in just one school and in addition to all the praise they received from the school community, they were able to show that school attendance rates actually increased because of it! Now, that’s what we call fierce!
Having had the opportunity to meet and sit with Jennifer on four different occasions over the past few months, we got all our questions for this piece answered in all that we shared with you above. Here are answers to the two quintessential questions we ask all of our fierce women in order to honor those who came before and with us, while looking to empower all the more to come in the future!
At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?
Oh wow, there are a lot of fierce women in my life. My daughters are really fierce, my mom’s fierce, i have colleagues and friends. i don’t know if i can actually name a single person. it’s the collection Maybe there’s a philosophical answer Just like this movement isn’t singular or about one particular viewpoint or strategy there are many women in my life. I would say every women I have so many amazing women in the universe that I can say i learned something different from each and every one of them.
Maxim will be offering readers of this blog post feature a chance to support a non-profit of your choice or one of our non-profits for women’s empowerment partners via it’s #FierceWomenFunded initiative. Which charitable organization would you like to support via Maxim’s #FierceWomenFunded initiative and why?
So, fellow fierce women, how are you going to make your voice heard? Maybe join the 60,000 others who have signed Jennifer and Cosmopolitan magazine’s petition to eliminate the tampon tax or maybe you’ll start your own movement. Take the plunge, like Jennifer did, maybe not in to the ocean on a cold winter’s day, but write your local paper about an issue that means something to you, start a tampon drive like the girls that inspired Jennifer and know that you too can be a fierce woman!
You can also support Jennifer and her favorite non-profits with your next purchase of Maxim products at our online store. Just enter the following coupon code at checkout and we’ll literally make a check out to Girls Helping Girls Period and Support the Girls! Coupon code: MEQUITY