By Katherine Huang
According to data from the US Census in 2017, a larger proportion of African-Americans were living in poverty, at an astonishing rate of 21.2%, higher than any other major ethnic group. The National Center for Education Statistics found that in 2016, just 78% of black students graduated public high schools in the U.S. compared to 89% of their Caucasian counterparts.
Research by the United Nations has demonstrated that education for girls is one of the best solutions to many global societal issues including battling poverty, public health issues, and strengthening communities as a whole.
One very simple way that we as Democrats can directly effect positive change across all these areas is to raise awareness of and efforts to combat period poverty in the United States with our elected officials. A shocking 1 in 5 high school girls in the U.S. have skipped school due to the unaffordability of menstrual hygiene products, which makes them less likely to graduate high school and find suitable employment upon graduation. The city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania are exploring ways and proposing legislation to address this issue, and the UK government has recently implemented a mandatory scheme in England requiring schools with girls age 16 to 19 to provide free period products in their place of study.
The Democratic National Committee has an opportunity to make a change for all girls living in poverty – in particular those belonging to ethnic groups with higher poverty rates – by making this a part of their Educational platform at the national level. For those of us who still believe in the American dream, we should find it within ourselves to speak up to our lawmakers and to our party officials about addressing this important issue with the urgency it deserves.