Board Member quoted in Newsweek.
Dignity Period Board Member and associate professor of behavioral science and health education at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, Anne Sebert Kuhlmann, Ph.D., MPH, has been in the spotlight for the pending publication of a research study that found the majority of low-income women in St. Louis, MO also have unmet menstrual hygiene needs.
While reviewing literature in preparation for helping evaluate the effectiveness of Dignity Period's intervention on school girls in Ethiopia, Anne realized that there was really very little information about menstrual hygiene struggles for low-income women living in developed countries like the U.S. Anne and her team thought that it likely was an issue but could not find any supporting documentation. That’s how the Unmet Menstrual Hygiene Needs Among Low-Income Women study was born.
The study, one of the first needs assessments of its kind, documents the challenges, from affordability to transportation, that low-income people with periods face in accessing basic sanitary supplies. The findings are slated for publication in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Anne and her team were surprised at the magnitude of the results. Nearly 2/3 of the women surveyed did not have the money to buy needed menstrual hygiene products during the past year. And, 46% of women surveyed had to choose between food and menstrual hygiene products at some point.
In the Newsweek article, Anne expertly explains why this work is so important. “This is not a luxury. It’s a need. It affects a woman’s sense of self, her sense of dignity and her ability to participate in life.”
After Anne’s research identified an unmet need in our hometown, Dignity Period decided to expand our efforts. Read more about a pilot project we’re launching in partnership with two other St. Louis organizations to provide menstrual hygiene supplies to low-income, local women.