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BRAWS Publishes Congressional Briefing Report; Hosts Release Event on Menstrual Inequity

Friday, May 4, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Demetria Themistocles
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Briefing panelists, attendees, and organizers, including faculty and students in the Legislation Clinic and representatives from their client, BRAWS

In a new report, the Legislation Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law), on behalf of its client Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters (BRAWS), explores the impact of a lack of access to menstrual products for low-income and underserved women and girls. To discuss the report and its potential use in future advocacy, BRAWS and the Legislation Clinic will be hosting a facilitated discussion for advocates and organizations, titled “Suffering in Silence: The Impact of Menstrual Inequity on Vulnerable Women and Girls.” This community event will be held on May 12, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at BRAWS Headquarters (303 Maple Avenue, W, Unit F, Vienna, VA 22180).

There is currently no comprehensive federal law providing access to menstrual products in schools, shelters and correctional facilities. A lack of uniform policy leads to sweeping inaccessibility and inconsistent legislation among the states, forcing women and girls into impossible situations. Because menstrual products are often not stocked in schools, girls whose families cannot afford these critical supplies – or girls who feel too embarrassed to ask for them – may stay home from school and miss out on important educational opportunities. Shelters are often the only source of menstrual products for homeless women and girls, but they are forced to go without these basic necessities when most shelters cannot meet this overwhelming need. In correctional facilities, incarcerated women’s health and dignity are affected when they are given inadequate tampons and pads and must resort to making their own products, purchasing them at an inflated price through the Commissary or asking male guards for them one at a time. While some states and localities have reformed their policies, it is simply not enough.

To help combat these inequities, BRAWS distributes menstrual products to, and advocates for policy reform on behalf of, girls in schools, women and girls in shelters and formerly incarcerated women. On Nov. 29, 2017, BRAWS and the Legislation Clinic hosted a Congressional Briefing titled “Voices of Women and Girls on Menstruation, Dignity, and the Issue of Access.” During the Briefing, staffers from nine congressional offices, community organizations, advocates and the general public heard the stories of panelists directly affected by the issue of adequate and appropriate access to menstrual products. The speakers included formerly incarcerated women, pre-teen and teenage girls in schools, teachers and directors of nonprofits serving homeless and low-income women and girls, and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-6). Rep. Meng has introduced comprehensive federal legislation to make menstrual products easier to afford and access. This new report captures the stories shared at the Congressional Briefing and provides a synopsis of what menstrual inequity looks like for girls in schools, women and girls in shelters and incarcerated women. It also examines the local, state and federal legislation and policies that have been proposed and passed to reform these practices.

Join us Saturday, May 12, to learn more about the report and connect with other advocates interested in future advocacy for menstrual equity. Light breakfast will be provided. Space is limited, so please RSVP at the UDC Law website.

For questions about the report or the event, please contact Demetria Themistocles, a student attorney in the Legislation Clinic, at Demetria.Themistocle@udc.edu.


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