Story by Katlyn Mackie, Contributing writer
One conversation motivated a Murray State student to create a new feminist project that is sweeping the campus.
The local project, Menstruation Proclamation: A Movement (MPM), involves placing kits of feminine hygiene products in various bathrooms across campus for women who can’t afford them.
Although the project officially started Monday, Jordyn Rowland, sophomore from Murray, said the idea came from an encounter she had last semester with another female student.
Rowland said she was waiting for class to start when she met a girl who asked her for a tampon.
When the same girl came out of the bathroom – with tears in her eyes – she thanked Rowland because she said she had not been able to afford any feminine hygiene products for over a year.
“The average cost of a standard box [of tampons] is $7 in the United States,” Rowland said. “You can’t buy them with food stamps, you can’t buy them with the WIC program, so these homeless women are trading meals for a tampon.”
Abigail French, Women’s Center coordinator, said projects like the Menstruation Proclamation are “critical first steps” to raising awareness about the burden such costs place on many women.
“The high cost of these necessary products leave many women in the predicament of choosing between essential needs,” French said.
At first, Rowland supplied all the products for each bathroom that had the kits on campus, but as awareness spread, so did support and donations.
Rowland said she even has a friend in the Netherlands who is shipping over 65 boxes of feminine products.
Rowland also has inspired others to join the movement in their own towns. She said she has a friend in Boston who has set up her own station at her school.
Lauren Edminster, freshman from Murray, said she believes the movement will have a positive affect on campus and hopes that it will make women feel more comfortable.
“I think this is a huge need on campus that goes unnoticed, especially because of the unprecedented stigma that surrounds menstruation,” Edminster said.
As of now, there are approximately 14 feminine hygiene kits around campus. They have been placed in all three female bathrooms in Wilson Hall, the gender neutral bathroom in the Business building, the female bathrooms in the Old Fine Arts building and one in the Oakley Applied Science building.
Rowland said she has plans to eventually get kits in all women’s bathrooms on campus.
Once Murray State is covered, she said she hopes to expand to high schools in Murray and possibly make the movement nationwide.
Rowland isn’t just concerned about college campuses and schools but homeless women on the streets, as well.
From all the donations she gets, Rowland said she is splitting them in half so she can deliver products to homeless shelters and battered women shelters. She can even hand them out on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Rowland said she also is planning to hand out products with her friends while on Spring Break in Los Angeles, California.
“We treat it as a taboo subject, and it shouldn’t be,” Rowland said. “We all go through it; it’s all of us.”
To donate products, contact Jordyn Rowland via Facebook, Twitter (@RowlandJordyn) or Instagram (@jordyn.rowland), and mail products to the following address:
c/o FBC Murray
203 S. 4th St.
Murray, KY 42071