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In early January, Next Generation Leadership Institute Fellow (2020-2021) and Spelman College student Asia Brown launched 601 for Period Equity. Since then, the organization has donated nearly 500 care packages to women’s shelters, schools, community organizations, and menstruating people in need across her home state of Mississippi. Read about Asia’s experience working toward eradicating period poverty in Mississippi.
Being from rural Mississippi, I always knew that period poverty is an ongoing issue. Mississippi has a 7 percent tax on period supplies — the highest in the nation. According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, 25 percent of the state’s 649,269 women and girls of menstruating age live below the Federal Poverty Line. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated poverty in Mississippi, making period poverty even worse for menstruators.
Realizing the need for menstrual equity in my home state, I decided to co-found 601 for Period Equity with my younger sister, Laila Brown. 601 for Period Equity is a grassroots organization dedicated to uplifting Black menstruators and fighting period poverty in Mississippi. As a Black woman-led organization, 601 for Period Equity also aims to have conversations surrounding period stigma and shame in the Black community. We currently have two branches of operation in Vicksburg and Jackson Mississippi.
In the future, we hope to continue to expand our reach to other communities in Mississippi, especially the most marginalized. 601 for Period Equity stands for all menstruators: Black menstruators, poor menstruators, imprisoned menstruators, disabled menstruators, trans, and nonbinary menstruators, and others. I hope to establish more chapters, have period-positive conversations with the Black community, and launch other initiatives surrounding reproductive health. I believe a country that claims to be the “greatest nation in the world” should never allow its citizens to become so poor that they cannot live in dignity during their menstrual cycle.
Keep up with our Next Generation Leadership Institute fellows and their activism on and off campus here.