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Period poverty in Hawaiʻi: some students use newspapers and plants in place of period products

A menstrual cup — this one is made of silicone rubber — is designed to collect menstrual blood. The bell-shaped device is folded and inserted into the vagina. The tip helps with removal.
A menstrual cup — this one is made of silicone rubber — is designed to collect menstrual blood. The bell-shaped device is folded and inserted into the vagina. The tip helps with removal.

A new report shows a high level of inequity in access to menstrual products in the state.

The Hawaiʻi State Commission on the Status of Women and the nonprofit organization Maʻi Movement Hawaiʻi surveyed nearly 400 individuals.

Nearly one-third of respondents said they or someone in their household experienced difficulty obtaining period products — such as a pad or tampon.

Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director for the commission, says, "Our youth, our students, are using newspapers, baby diapers and plants in place of period supplies."

"The government has to fill this gap, and it shouldn’t have to be on nonprofits like Maʻi Movement and the community to supply access to our youth. And not just our youth but women too. Women deserve care too and dignity when they menstruate," Jabola-Carolus told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Many respondents said they cannot afford menstrual products, or they feel shame in buying or asking someone for them.

Jabola-Carolus is planning to use the report to encourage legislative action on universal access to period supplies at schools.

About 95% of respondents said they believe the government should remove a tax on menstrual products.

Read the report in the box below or click here.

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