Bay Area students join global fight for ‘menstrual equity’

A growing movement of Generation Z activists — those born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s — argue that it’s finally time for us to talk about periods. Openly.

Members of the menstrual equity movement, as they’re calling it, are working to make hygiene products accessible and affordable to all who need them, from school campuses to homeless shelters. In reducing the stigma and inconvenience surrounding a biological function that half of all humans experience, they hope to erase stubborn barriers to gender equality.

In San Francisco, Simply the Basics, a 3-year-old nonprofit organization and self-proclaimed “hygiene bank,” delivers products to schools once a semester to augment what they already have, and recommends each school put pads and tampons in the library as well as in restrooms and locker rooms for all genders. That’s partly to serve transgender and nonbinary students who menstruate, and also to make the issue more open to both boys and girls.

“We want it to just be as visible as a box of Kleenex,” says Simply the Basics founder Meghan Freebeck. “If it’s something you see more often, you’ll understand it’s a human issue even if you don’t use it.”