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Working to Alleviate Period Poverty with Community-Serving Organization in Philadelphia

menstration products

March 6, 2023

At the start of the 2022-2023 academic year, three Dornsife School of Public Health master’s students worked together to complete an Applied Practical Experience at the Center for Leadership, Development & Advocacy, Inc. (CLDA) that addressed period poverty in Philadelphia.

CLDA's mission is to "provide realistic opportunities for parents, guardians and caregivers to engage in polished decision-making, comprehensive activities and educational programs that increase their awareness of resources that not only develop their individual leadership and advocacy skills, but consistently offers strategies to support their children's achievement." They "seek to instill the values of being a good neighbor, being grateful and having empathy for those in tough circumstances by volunteering with children’s parents and/or guardians at events throughout Philadelphia."

Students Rashmeet Kaur, Precious Anyadike, and Meredith Anne Capuli worked directly with Teresa Duncan, MEd, EA, Executive Director of CLDA. Throughout their APE the students checked in weekly with CLDA leadership virtually, and two even did so from Canada and Philippines despite time zone differences.

Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these.

According to the Journal of Global Health Reports, 16.9 million people who menstruate in the United States are living in poverty. Two-thirds of the 16.9 million low-income people who menstruate in the U.S. were unable to afford period products in 2021. The journal notes a lack of research on the topic and the need for further investigation.

Kaur, Anyadike, and Capuli first created a needs assessment that revealed additional strategies to alleviate period poverty in Philadelphia were critical. They then developed an awareness campaign about period poverty for social media, specifically Instagram, that included infographics.

They also helped to create and disseminate a policy memo for local government officials. This memo amplified facts, figures, and stories about those who lack access to period products. CLDA used these deliverables in meetings with the Philadelphia School District with a goal of ensuring students could access tampons, pads, menstrual cups, etc. without issue.

Duncan notes that the CLDA does not steer away from culturally taboo topics. “We want to change the conversation around period poverty,” she said.

Overall, Duncan felt Kaur, Anyadike, and Capuli were each real assets to the CLDA team. “These students thought about things deeply and they really cared,” she said. “They did hard work and really understood what the mission was.”

Learn about practice opportunities at Dornsife

Learn more about CLDA

Click to view the awareness campaign about period poverty that the students created for social media:

How does period poverty impact school aged youth in the US