Women’s History Month Spotlight

March is Women’s History Month! We’re celebrating by highlighting some amazing women who help highlight the values of our organization.

Gretchen Whitmer
Gretchen Whitmer is the Governor of Michigan, first elected in 2019 and re-elected in 2022. She has made incredible strides in the State of Michigan regarding women’s rights and period equity. In November 2021, Whitmer signed a bill to repeal the “pink tax” on period products in Michigan. In addition, Gov. Whitmer has protected the reproductive rights of those in Michigan who are able to become pregnant. On April 7th, 2022, she filed a lawsuit to resolve Michigan’s 1931 law – banning abortions without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors for performing these procedures. As a result, this law was ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Court of Claims. Since, she has worked to ensure protection for women around the country traveling to Michigan to receive an abortion. To learn more about Gov. Whitmer’s fight for reproductive rights, click here.

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner is credited as the inventor of the menstrual pad. When the pad was first created, it was called a “sanitary belt” that had a moisture proof napkin pocket. According to BlackDoctor.org, the sanitary belt was not used until 30 years after its invention because companies were resistant to investing in a product invented by a black woman. Nonetheless, she would go on to receive 5 patents in her lifetime for household and personal items. Kenner changed women’s health forever by creating what would become the menstrual pad. She made incredible strides for period equity during a time when women didn’t have many options for menstrual management.

Sylvia Rivera
Sylvia Rivera is a trans woman and LGBTQ activist, credited with putting the T in LBGTQ and known for her participation in the Stonewall Riots of 1969. She worked to ensure trans folks were protected under the activism of the gay community through the inclusion of transgender people in the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York. According to the National Women’s History Museum, the final bill passed in 2002.
In addition, Rivera created the Street Trans Action Revolutionaries (STAR) organization alongside the iconic activist, Marsha P. Johnson. STAR was a space where trans folk could come together and organize against issues in the NYC transgender community. Their building became a safe place for trans people in NYC at a time when few existed.

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist and globally recognized symbol of girl’s struggle for equal access to education. She continues to fight for the right of girls everywhere to receive a proper, 12 year education despite their gender. She founded the Malala Fund, which works with leaders in education to invest in and commit to the learning of girls. They also offer support to grassroots organizations doing work to include girls in the conversation of education, provide resources and amplify their voice. To learn more about the Malala Fund click here.

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger was an activist devoted to legalizing birth control and improving abortion access in the United States. She coined the term “birth control” in 1914 and provided reproductive education and contraceptives to women at a time where this was incredibly controversial. In 1916 she was even arrested for opening the first birth control clinic. In 1951 she worked with Gregory Pincus, a male reproductive medical professional, to develop the first birth control pill. Their research led the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, to be approved by the FDA. It is because of Sanger’s work that this type of birth control, “the pill”, was mass distributed, further normalizing reproductive freedom and leading to the creation of more advanced methods of contraception.

Christine Mwangi, BSc., MRPharmS.
Christine Mwangi is the founder and president of Be a Rose Inc., a non-profit organization that helps to fight period poverty by providing women in need with free period products. Recently, this organization was acquired by Lysne Tait’s Helping Women Period, combining to make their impact on the period space even bigger. Mwangi is also the founder of Grounded In Equity, a company that serves as a strategic consulting partner to leadership, staff, governing boards and volunteers of organizations to improve the diversity, culture and inclusion in workplaces. Her profound impact on the non-profit space in the context of period equity deserves recognition this women’s history month and beyond.

Along with these hard-working women, there are many others doing incredible work for women around the world. Use this month to learn, research and lend a hand to organizations that work tirelessly to bridge the period equity gap!

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