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Ana Maria Cornea / Gavel Media

Period Power at Boston College

As you’re sitting in class, you have the feeling: you started your period. You slowly unzip your backpack, trying to prevent any giveaway noises, and covertly pull a tampon into your sleeve—the whole time silently praying no one is watching.

According to the Menstrual Hygiene Day website, 42% of women have actively been shamed for being on their period, and 58% have described a feeling of embarrassment simply for being on their period. There is no denying it: there is a stigma surrounding menstruation in the United States. It is seen as a dirty word and a dirty process. Some women are lucky enough just to experience the social effects of the stigma; however, two-thirds of women in the U.S. have experienced some form of period poverty, whether it is not being able to afford certain types of feminine products or not having access to any at all. 

Veronica Pierce (2027) saw this problem and decided to become a part of the solution. Pierce, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, is a current freshman at Boston College majoring in international studies. In 2022, Pierce developed an organization called Period Power, which makes packs of feminine/sanitary products to be delivered to nonprofits that specialize in helping underprivileged women. Through this, Pierce hopes to provide both free feminine products and a restored sense of dignity. 

Pierce first became fascinated with menstruation stigma and period poverty in the eighth grade when her classmates began getting their periods. “It was really interesting to me the way it was talked about and how it was very taboo,” said Pierce. Following that initial sense of curiosity, Pierce was introduced to a video on period poverty in the U.S. population of homeless women. Women who are homeless and are unable to find period products will resort to drastic measures in order to stay as hygienic as possible. For the menstruating homeless woman, anything from toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, rags, clothes, or even leaves becomes necessary. 

Pierce became even more inspired during the COVID-19 pandemic when she started a different organization called Safe Vote. Safe Vote would package materials to help voters prepare for registration during a time when safety precautions were crucial. This design served as the basis for Period Power, which Pierce started in 2022. 

Period Power makes packs with ten pads, ten tampons, three sanitizing wipes, two packs of tissues, and a piece of candy, all sealed in a bag with a note that says, “You have the power.” In order to collect these products, drives are hosted at three local high schools, as well as an online option where people can donate money to go towards the purchase of the products. After this is done, the packs are distributed to five different nonprofits in the Nashville area. 

However, Pierce wants to combat more than just period poverty; she also wants to fight the stigma surrounding periods. The stigma surrounding menstruation is extremely harmful for period poverty and beyond, as it prevents people from wanting to talk about it and find solutions. In fact, Pierce said that Tennessee’s government refers to feminine hygiene products as luxury items, demonstrating a blatant lack of understanding surrounding menstruation. “Menstruation is not a shameful thing,” said Pierce, and in order to demonstrate this, she designed “sorting parties” and “period packing parties” to desensitize the idea of feminine products being “gross” or “dirty.”

To take this further, Pierce would invite students from the brother school to her all-girls high school to come help. “When I would bring it up to people, people would kind of get red in the face,” Pierce said while laughing. After hosting a drive at the all-boys school, Pierce organized a “sorting party in order to get all of the collected products organized. She recounted how, at first, only two or three boys were actively willing to touch tampons, but by the end, there were about ten boys going through and sorting the pads and tampons. The biggest weapon against menstrual stigma is simply making it a normal thing to talk about. “Even with like talking about it just a little bit, that change can be huge,” said Pierce.

After graduation, Pierce passed the leadership of the Nashville chapter over to a younger friend. They are currently working on a partnership with the Community Resource Center in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as trying to start delivering to the National State Penitentiary. 

Pierce is eager to start a chapter here in Boston. She has been in contact with the Women’s Center and Feminisms Club and has given presentations to Professor Emily Barko’s Introduction to Feminisms Class. Pierce has received a lot of positive responses and is now looking to start a club and form relationships with nonprofits in Boston.  

“My ultimate vision is getting free period products to women across the nation,” said Pierce. She plans on trying to meet with different government leaders to help advocate for bills surrounding period poverty. She additionally wants to spread her organization nationally and collaborate with other programs with a similar mission.

Period poverty is real, and until we de-stigmatize menstruation, women will continue to suffer. To stay updated, follow Period Power at @period.power.2022 on Instagram, check out the Period Power website, and keep an eye out for the start of the chapter here at BC.

An example of a completed period pack, sealed with a note.

Participants in Period Power standing with completed packs.

Founder of Period Power, Veronica Pierce, working with others on making packs.

Pierce delivers packs to a nonprofit.

Philosophy, English, and Hispanic studies major. When I'm not writing for the Gavel, I am reading books written by angry women (obviously) or listening to Karol G or Bad Bunny.