Through her work with the Clinton Global Initiative, Chelsea Clinton uses her platform to bring attention to issues that affect women and girls — especially ones that make many people uncomfortable.
In a recent essay for Well+Good, Clinton highlighted the need for those who menstruate to have access to pads and tampons, items which are deemed necessary yet still subject to tax in some states and not covered by food stamps.
"Pads and tampons are often an unaffordable luxury for families living in poverty — even though they’re not a luxury, they’re a necessity," Clinton writes. "Food stamps should cover sanitary products, and all states should recognize them as 'necessities' (like food and medicine) and stop taxing them as luxury items."
Clinton highlights the injustice that many women, especially those who live below the poverty line, face during that time of the month.
Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to infection, and has even been linked to cervical cancer in India.
"Sanitary products are among the most requested items at food pantries and homeless shelters," Clinton writes.
In women's prisons, as well, female inmates note the way the incarceration deems these items inessential. A former inmate who spoke to Mic said that "you were given an allowance [of menstrual pads] and they kept track of how often you asked. We weren't allowed to use tampons. ... I was forced to stew in my own fluids."
Clinton says we need to work to destigmatize menstruation by educating children, lobbying for access to period products, and advocating for those in need.
"We need to change the conversation, the practices, and the policies that too often punish women for being women," she writes. "We shouldn’t be embarrassed by... menstruation, but we should be ashamed that women are suffering in silence because too many people refuse to speak out."
Read Clinton's full essay at Well+Good.