Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen on mission to end period poverty

Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 9:39 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - She won the crown and now Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen Emma Anderson is ready to win the fight against period poverty.

“I want people to be able to thrive without having to worry about something that’s completely natural,” Anderson said. “That’s all I want.”

“Period poverty” refers to the shortage and lack of access to hygiene products, often associated with stigma and shame surrounding menstruation. Advocates around the world say more than 800 million people menstruate on a given day, and not having the proper resources can keep them from going to work or school.

As an aspiring teacher, Anderson says that doesn’t sit well with her.

“That was something that hit really close to home with me because of how much I value my education and how much of an impact it’s had on me,” she said.

In December 2020, Anderson began collecting tampons and pads, and donating them to agencies across Vermont, such as Spectrum Youth and Family Services in downtown Burlington.

Director of Housing and Operations Will Towne says they’re thankful for their ongoing partnership with Anderson.

“It’s a great gesture and the support that we receive from the community is always overwhelming,” he said. “Period products are something that are often overlooked. It’s a basic need and it’s just really wonderful to be able to give the youth access without them having to worry.”

Towne says about 15 people, including cisgender women, transgender men and nonbinary individuals, stop by each day for period products.

Towne says for most of them, finances are the biggest barrier to accessing products.

“The cost of them is definitely prohibitive in a lot of cases,” Towne said. “This can be a place to just learn and get some education about that kind of thing.”

Anderson says her next plan of action is to help make more funding available for small organizations so that they can continue purchasing and providing period products to those who need them.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are. I just want to be able to provide someone products so they can feel comfortable, even if it’s just enough products to get through one month,” Anderson said.

In just eight months, Anderson has gathered more than 16,000 period products.

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