Gina Rodriguez is fighting to end “period poverty” and keep girls in school.
“We need to recognize that this is a problem happening here and now, in my hometown and yours,” the “Jane The Virgin” actress wrote in an essay for Teen Vogue published Tuesday.
In partnership with Always and nonprofit organization Feeding America, Rodriguez is tackling an important issue: Millions of female students across the country are missing class during their periods because they can’t afford menstrual products.
“My time in school was one of the most defining, transformative experiences of my life,” Rodriguez wrote. “As kids head back to school over the coming weeks, many girls will miss out on crucial lessons and opportunities to grow ― but not because they don’t have the aptitude or drive to succeed.”
According to new research from Always, one in five girls in the U.S. have left school early or missed days entirely because of a lack of access to menstrual products during their periods.
“It’s a basic human need, and it is one that so many are forced to go without. I’m so lucky that this isn’t something I ever experienced firsthand, but I know that the impact can be devastating, especially at puberty when a girl’s confidence is often already at its lowest point,” Rodriguez wrote.
It’s a basic human need, and it is one that so many are forced to go without. Gina Rodriguez
Rodriguez added that missing school would have threatened her successful career in acting.
“I am sure I would’ve missed out on building deeper relationships with my teachers and peers, but it’s hard to know just how big the impact could be,” she wrote. “For example, would my grades have looked different, and would I have been able to stay involved in the activities I loved? Without the foundation of a FULL and UNINTERRUPTED basic education, I may not have been in a position to go to NYU. And if I hadn’t had that college experience, I may not have had any of the amazing, life-changing opportunities that followed and shaped who I am today.”
The actress urged readers to take action by raising awareness and donating to local schools and food pantries.
“I want to help make sure that fewer girls miss important time in class this year. If you want to help, too, we can start by talking about the fact that period poverty is a reality, right here at home,” she wrote. “Education is the most powerful tool many of us will ever have in this life, and no girl should have to miss school because of her period.”
Head over to Teen Vogue to read Rodriguez’s full essay.