Did you know that 25% of girls and nonbinary youth miss out on school and work, simply because they can’t afford menstrual products? House Bill 50 (HB50), a bill recently passed by Alabama Legislature, will create a grant program providing free feminine hygiene products to high-poverty schools that need them. Read on to see how Brooke and Breanna Bennett helped make it happen.
Ending period poverty
After three years, HB50 has finally passed Alabama Senate in a 31 to 0 vote. The bill, sponsored by Representative Rolanda Hollis, will create a $200,000 grant program to provide free feminine hygiene products to high-poverty schools.
The women behind the bill? 14-year old trailblazers, Brooke and Breanna Bennett. On their 12th birthday, the sisters founded a nonprofit organization called Women in Training (WIT), which provides free feminine hygiene kits (WITKITS) to those who need them.
According to their website, WITKITS are branded canvas bags full of menstrual, hygiene and dental products. During the pandemic, the bags also included personal protective equipment in the bags, such as bottles of WIT hand sanitizer, masks and disposable gloves. WIT has been able to deliver over 10,000 WITKITS to schools
In an opinion piece for the Montgomery Advertiser, Khadidah Stone, Government Relations Coordinator for Women in Training, said that one in five American girls with periods struggle to purchase period products due to lack of income, with that number on the rise due to the pandemic.
Since its inception, Women in Training has expanded to include several different programs that help break the generational cycle of poverty. The Bennett’s inspiring work has garnered several awards and national recognition—including People Magazine’s Girls Changing the World in 2021 and the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.
“We are so excited that girls in Alabama’s public schools will have access to the essential period products they need each month. Almost three years ago, we met with Representative Rolanda Hollis to ask her to sponsor a bill to get menstrual products in schools. She said yes, and worked so hard to get the bill through both the House and Senate.”Brooke and Breanna Bennett, Co-founders, Women in Training, Inc.
Representative Hollis’ legislation provides $200,000 in grants for grades 5-12 in Title I schools across Alabama, which helps provide menstrual products at no cost to students.
The legislation now awaits a signature from Gov. Kay Ivey to take effect.
For more news like this delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter.