WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. – Teens at Washtenaw County International High School are working together to tackle period poverty in the state of Michigan.
PERIOD@WIHI, a club at the high school, has been been working with other Washtenaw County chapters of youth-led advocacy organization PERIOD to speak to policymakers and grow awareness of menstrual equity.
Founded by seniors Adi Orlyanchik and Karley Young, the chapter has traditionally been involved with education and community awareness but switched gears in 2019 when members attended a policy issues boot camp offered by PERIOD.
Now PERIOD@WIHI is working with other chapters and organizations at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor in its advocacy efforts.
Currently, the chapter is focused on Michigan House Bills 4165 and 4166, which would amend the General Sales Tax Act and the Use Tax Act to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales and use taxes, also known as “the tampon tax.”
The bills were introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives in February 2019.
To raise awareness of the bills, the chapter is pushing for signatures on a petition asking the Michigan House of Representatives and other Michigan legislators to support the bills.
“We actually got a lot of support within the first two days. I think we got 1,000 [signatures] within two days but then afterwards it slowed a bit down, " Young said.
She said the chapter met with Michigan House Representative Tenisha Yancey, a sponsor of Bill 4165, and other co-sponsoring state representatives after launching the petition.
The group talked with the representatives about raising awareness among community members around Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
Find the petition here.
View this post on Instagram
@gewhitmer @gewhitmer @gewhitmer LET’S END THE MICHIGAN TAMPON TAX‼️- LET’S GET TO 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ SIGNATURES sign the petition in support of house bills 4165 and 4166 - link in our bio🌟✊🩸 . @nadyaokamoto @ameerabdul @anusha_sing @periodmovement . #nationalperiodday #freetheperiod #tampon #pad #tampontax #menstruation #menstrualcycle #menstruationmatters #periodproblems #period #periodpositive #periodpoverty #periodpower #facts #equality #feminist #feminism #genderequality #mi #michigan #michiganders #justice #education #equity #petition #reproductivehealth #reproductiverights #puremichigan
✉ Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!
In addition to gathering support through the petition, PERIOD@WIHI plans to work with Period Equity, a New York-based menstrual equity group, to continue pushing policies to remove the tampon tax in Michigan.
According to Orlyanchik, the financial impacts of COVID-19 has pushed affordable menstrual products even farther out of the reach of those already struggling or unemployed.
“So we are seeing right now, more than ever, that more and more people are becoming financially unstable,” said Orlyanchik. “More and more people are becoming unable to purchase period products for themselves.”
She emphasized the medical consequences of unsafe or unsanitary period hygiene that may occur when individuals are unable to afford the products they need.
Orlyanchik added that it was important to amplify the petition in order to support others in the community.
Young said that PERIOD@WIHI has taken its advocacy online through virtual meetings, hosting speaker panels, donating menstrual products and sending out newsletters to partnering organizations.
Previously, the teen group partnered with the Robert J. Delonis Center and SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor, Saline Area Social Service in Saline and the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti.
Find the chapter website here.
View this post on Instagram
2000 period products➡️150 period packs to be donated to social services in the area!! although we miss having our usual packing parties, we had a lot of fun packing up products as a family💘 HAGS to all of our lovely PERIOD members, we miss you and can’t wait for next year🌟 @periodmovement #menstrualhygieneday #nationalperiodday #freetheperiod #tampon #pad #tampontax #menstruation #menstrualcycle #menstruationmatters #periodproblems #period #periodpositive #periodpoverty #periodpower #facts #equality #feminist #feminism #genderequality #mi #michigan #mothersday #justice #education #equity #petition #reproductiverights #periodpack #donate