Natalie Gutierrez | Staff Writer
The privilege of accessible menstrual products is rarely seen as that – a privilege. PERIOD. at FIU aims to change that.
PERIOD., an organization that promotes menstrual health education and hosts donation drives, started at FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus in 2019. This chapter is part of a national nonprofit whose mission is to generate awareness about period poverty and the lack of availability and affordability of menstrual products.
Gabriela Barahona is an international student from El Salvador and president of the club. The senior, majoring in criminal justice, believes that menstrual health awareness is important because limited access to products can be an obstacle to basic health needs, especially in lower-income countries.
“We strive to end period poverty and stigma,” said Barahona. “This issue is not talked about in our day-to-day life. I think it should be something that more people are aware of.”
For Barahona, PERIOD.’s uniqueness comes from its focus on helping students get period resources.
“They cannot afford them because they are either homeless or have experienced hardships in life. They are not able to do everyday things because of their periods,” said Barahona.
In October 2022, the club collected period products and monetary donations to support girls and women impacted by Hurricane Ian.
“It is important to help non-privileged groups since not everyone has the opportunity to access different period products. These items should not become a luxury… one group should not be able to afford these products because they have the money,” said Barahona. “It is important to have free period products. I really do not think there should be a privileged and non-privileged group.”
In collaboration with the Lotus House, a homeless service in Miami, PERIOD. will host a Valentine’s Day drive. They will collect donations starting from the second week of spring classes until Feb. 14. Items to be collected include pads, tampons, and face masks. Barahona believes that financial stress should not be an impediment, so she would like to lend a “helping hand to menstruators.”
“We are looking forward to the drive because these are women who have experienced domestic abuse and are unable to afford these products. They have to choose whether they buy food for their families or period products,” said Barahona. “This is our way of making sure that people who are in need can have access.”
“To me, this is really significant because, coming from a third-world country, I know that people are not educated on periods. I think that helping people who have period poverty is a big opportunity. It really goes to show that these kinds of issues can be minimized. We help people because they need it,” said Barahona.
Although Barahona has never experienced period poverty firsthand, she understands that many women do not have period education or the wherewithal to purchase menstrual hygiene items.
“I know a lot of rural areas in El Salvador where some women cannot go to work because of their periods. It is disheartening because I feel that people don’t view it from that perspective,” said Barahona.
Vice President Angel Reji, a senior and political science major, feels similarly to Barahona. “I really like being a part of this organization because the menstruation movement is becoming more widely known.”
“Menstruation is not talked about at all because it is taboo and stigmatized. The goal is to normalize period poverty because it is a serious issue. There are people who cannot access clean menstrual products, so we give out these products and necessities,” said Reji.
Presently, the club meets on a monthly basis. Meeting schedules and locations vary, but board members send announcements via email and social media.
You can learn more about PERIOD. on Instagram (@period.fiu), Linktree (https://linktr.ee/periodfiu) and PantherConnect (https://fiu.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/periodmovement).