Activists in all 50 states gather Saturday to call for an end to the Tampon Tax during the first-ever National Period Day, an effort that all began with a college student from Portland.
Nadya Okamoto was 16 and a student at Catlin Gabel when she realized that the homeless women at her bus stop in Old Town didn't have access to safe and hygienic menstrual supplies—and that she could do something about it. She's now a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and the nonprofit she started, Period.org, lobbies for the removal of sales taxes on menstrual products, which are still considered non-essential or "luxury" items in a depressing 35 states.
Saturday's rally in Portland kicks off at 11 am at Terry Shrunk Plaza at SW 3rd and Morrison. Organizers say they will be calling for legislation that requires tampons to be provided free of charge in Oregon public schools and at homeless shelters.
To spread the word about National Period Day, the nonprofit worked with big-deal ad agency BBDO's San Francisco office to make a video dubbed "See Red" that aims to get you and everyone you know to reconsider how you talk about periods.
According to the group, in the United States alone, menstruating people spend $11,000 on average on period-adjacent products in their lifetime. That puts safe, hygienic period care out of reach for many; statistics show that up to 25 percent of people struggle to afford their sanitary products of choice.
“If you walked into the bathroom and there was no toilet paper, you'd be kind of pissed,” says Okamoto, “and we think that period products should be treated as the same necessity.”
The group is also hosting PERIOD Con this winter in Portland, with speakers, workshops and more.