When I first saw an email about The Period Project I was extremely excited about the idea of increasing accessibility to feminine hygiene products for underprivileged women. I could not believe how simple the idea was, yet how profound an impact it could make on women in the Athens community. I was taken aback yet again when I read who the mind behind the project was: Madison Sloat.
Madison and I lived in the same suburb of Pittsburgh until I was eight years old. I moved to Cleveland and did not have contact with her until this interview. It was astonishing to see the little girl I knew from dance recitals and preschool become an innovative leader on her college campus.
After reuniting with Madison, a current freshman, I discovered that she is a member of the Honors Tutorial College and is pursuing a degree in Communications with a focus on political communications, with the intent to become an attorney. I found her fervor for bettering the lives of women quite magnetic. The little girl in a glitter-dusted tutu is now a strong woman with a crucial message.
Hayley: What sparked the idea of The Period Project?
Madison: I actually came up with the idea as a senior in high school. It was a large school that contained students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. So, one day I went into the restroom and I heard a girl crying behind a stall. I knocked on the stall and asked her why she was crying. The girl told me she had been wearing the same sanitary pad for three consecutive days because she did not have enough money to purchase new ones, and was too embarrassed to ask anyone for handouts. I immediately reached into my bag and gave her any feminine hygiene supplies I had on me. Before that interaction, however, I never realized there was a problem with accessibility to feminine hygiene products.
H: How did you go about developing and then implementing the program?
M: Well, I am still in the process of both developing and implementing The Period Project. It technically started Sunday, February 7, but I have been meeting with faculty members and organizations for quite some time. One of the greatest challenges of this program was actually finding a place to donate to, but we are now set up to give our first set of donations to the Timothy House in Athens (a 24-hour homeless shelter for men, women, and children). We have also set up a GoFundMe page and have a box on Park Place near the Honors Tutorial College to collect donations. I have been astounded by how much money we have already raised on GoFundMe. After 24 hours we received almost $500 in donations. We already went to Walmart and bought the products and tomorrow the $500 worth of products will be donated to the Timothy House.
H: How big of an issue is the taxing of feminine hygiene products and the branding of these products as “luxury items?”
M: It’s a huge issue, and it’s incredibly frustrating. Did you know forty out of fifty states (Ohio being one of them) tax these products? Most states have exemptions from taxes on “necessities,” but these products are not considered necessities – which is incredibly ridiculous. There are ten states that don’t tax candy or soda, but do tax feminine hygiene products. As for the notion of these products being “luxury” products, I try to illustrate the issue to men in a way they can relate to better. I have them imagine that toilet paper is not provided in restrooms, and that they must buy their own and bring it with them.
H: What is your ultimate goal for The Period Project?
M: If I could see it through to senior year, in an ideal world I would like to have donated to every shelter in Ohio, or at least in every county. I would also like to promote involvement on other campuses. My dream would be that this program spreads nationally, or globally. Another goal of mine is to have Ohio University (and other universities) provide free feminine hygiene products to students in public restrooms. I am very irritated by the fact that the University gives out free condoms, but not free feminine products. The emphasis on safe sex is great, but women need the products desperately.
H: How does someone become an active part of The Period Project?
M: As of right now we are still very new, so we are working everything out, so keep up to date on The Period Project Facebook page. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need more information. Once we officially become a student organization, there will be formal meetings and we will discuss how to become actively involved.