A Brief But Spectacular take on ending period poverty

Lynette Medley is the founder and CEO of No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc., a comprehensive sexual health and awareness organization. Based in Philadelphia, Medley and her team started by delivering menstrual products door-to-door, and have since established a groundbreaking menstrual hub. She offers her Brief But Spectacular take on ending period poverty.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lynette Medley is the founder and CEO of No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit, a comprehensive sexual health and awareness organization.

    Based in Philadelphia, Medley and her team started by delivering menstrual products door to door to underserved communities and have since established a groundbreaking menstrual hub.

    Tonight, Medley offers her Brief But Spectacular take on ending period poverty.

    Lynette Medley, Founder and CEO, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit: I remember this young person, and I will call her Holly.

    She looked me right in the face and she said: "Miss Lynette, how do you expect me to respect and protect my body, when, one week out the mouth, I have to resort to the most horrendous things just to get access to menstrual products? I will have to steal. I will have to have sex with people I didn't want to have sex with."

    And that's how I got into the space.

    Period poverty is the inability to access menstrual hygiene products. And most of the time, when you think of poverty, you think of housing insecurity, food insecurity, and things like that. So, when you think about those populations, half of those populations are actually in period poverty.

    And our communities — and I'm a Black woman — we do not talk about sexuality-related topics at all. When I first got my menstrual cycle, or my period, I remember, when I told my mother about it, and it was just like, don't tell anyone else, and now you're a woman, so now you have to act different.

    I didn't even know what a period was when I got it, because there was no conversation about it.

    I received a lot of resistance, and I still do, with the work that I do around sexuality-related topics. No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Incorporated basically started off as a comprehensive sexuality awareness organization, but then it fed right into bodily autonomy, which fed right into period poverty.

    I opened up the menstrual hub, the SPOT Period, during the national pandemic. It has menstrual hygiene products. It has toiletries. It has Wi-Fi. It has computers. It has running water and operable toilets. It is a comprehensive approach to menstrual health and well-being, so that people can live in dignity with their periods.

    A large part of the work that we do is community-oriented. So we are out in the communities all over Philadelphia and the surrounding areas dropping off these five-month supplies of menstrual products.

    This is something that should be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, WIC or SNAP benefits. Any school that gets free lunches should get free menstrual products. And we need to start looking at menstrual health as a system of care.

    We serve young people as young as 7 years old. It's disrespectful and basically demoralizing to have this young person have to engage in unsafe behaviors just to deal with something that they have no control over.

    My name is Lynette Medley. This is my Brief But Spectacular take on ending period poverty.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What a wonderful thing, out in the open, as it should be.

    And you can watch more of our Brief But Spectacular videos at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

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