Period Poverty In Mississippi
Updated: May 25, 2021
601 For Period Equity is based in Vicksburg, Mississippi. That being said, Mississippi, in many categories of socioeconomic measure, is considered the poorest state in the US. According to most websites and publications, Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation with a median household income of $45,081 and a 19.6% poverty rate according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2019). The US Census Bureau also reports that almost 20% of Mississippians live in poverty. Mississippi is also consistently ranked in the bottom in terms of education; while the state has a high school graduation rate of about 84%, only 22% of the population aged over 25 has a bachelor's degree or higher. The average Mississippian lacks access to quality education, health care, and mental health services. The racial makeup of Mississippi is unique, with the highest proportion of Black people in the nation; the state is about 59% white, 38% Black, and 1.1% Asian, along with various Native and Latinx immigrant communities throughout the state.
When menstruators live in poverty, they are likely simultaneously living in period poverty. Period poverty is defined by advocacy and education organization Global Citizen as "the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management." Considering Mississippi's high rates of poverty, it's not hard to realize how many menstruators in Mississippi experience period poverty every month. According to the Alliance For Period Supplies, 1 in 4 menstruators between the age of 12 and 44 live below the Federal Poverty Line.
In addition, Mississippi has the highest luxury sales tax on period products. This same luxury sales tax is also placed on contraceptives, baby formula, and diapers. During the 2021 legislative session, a bill was introduced that aimed to eliminate this luxury sales tax. This type of legislation has the potential to make period products more accessible to the individual menstruators and entire families that need them.
Unfortunately, the bill died, and Mississippi holds its place as one of the 30 remaining states that taxes menstrual care products.
The effects of poverty in Mississippi have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overarching theme of poverty and inaccessibility in Mississippi set the stage for the conception of our organization, 601 For Period Equity. Here at 601 for Period Equity, we recognize that people living in poverty equates to people living in period poverty. Menstruators should not have to choose between food and menstrual care products. Young menstruators are also not given access to free period care products in school, nor are they provided adequate education about menstruation or puberty in general. These issues also disproportionately affect Black menstruators, who also tend to have heavier flows and higher rates of other period and menstruation related issues such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Our team at 601 For Period Equity hopes to address and amplify all of these problems and fight for menstrual equity through mutual aid, advocacy, and education in our local areas.