Carefree Campaign: Fighting Menstrual Inequality

September 04, 2021

Samuel Lee (he/him/his) is a high school junior from Michigan. He is motivated to learn more about the field of medicine and science, and interested in advocating for equality for all and building senses of empowerment and bravery in the next generation. Samuel is passionate about learning about new cultures from across every continent and perspectives from people with different backgrounds.

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Recently, I’ve had the amazing privilege to ask questions to Carefree Campaign, a nonprofit organization created in 2020 by three Detroit, Michigan high school rising seniors, Vaishnavi (17), Medha (16), and Varnika (17).  Choosing to interview this nonprofit was a no-brainer: their fascinating work towards battling menstrual inequality cannot be ignored. Therefore, without further ado, here is my interview with the Carefree Campaign:

Samuel: For anyone who doesn’t know about your organization, what is the Carefree Campaign?
Carefree Campaign: Carefree Campaign is a registered nonprofit in Michigan. The corporation was founded to fight menstrual inequality found in our local communities. We work towards spreading awareness about period poverty, which is not only the lack of accessibility to menstrual products but also the lack of education on the topic itself. To reduce supply shortages, we host packing parties and donate menstrual products to local women’s shelters and food drives. We are proud to say we have donated nearly 8,000 products.

We also work on educating those around us on the topic of period poverty. We go around to classrooms to raise awareness among our peers, speak at different rallies and events to educate our community, and host booths at local events. Lastly, we are trying to eliminate the tampon and pink tax within the state of Michigan. We speak to different representatives and government officials trying to improve the status of the bill which is currently on Michigan’s tax policy committee. Overall, Carefree Campaign works to reduce supply shortages, educate on the topic of menstruation, and advocate for the removal of the tampon tax.

Samuel: What inspired the creation of the Carefree Campaign?
Carefree Campaign: One afternoon during passing time in middle school one of our male friends was looking for a piece of gum. So he decided to reach into my friend’s locker. Not paying attention to what he was doing he pulled out a pad instead of gum and started screaming in disgust. Although this event was hysterical, it is extremely disappointing to look back on. We realized that period product should not be taboo and wanted to reduce the stigma. By doing more research, we realized that the lack of menstrual products and the tampon tax are also huge issues.

We learned that 1 in every 5 girls miss school in the United States due to their menstrual cycle. Now, this is just for girls if we consider the true spectrum of menstruation including trans-gender women, non-binary, and gender-fluid individuals, there may be many more. Personally, we even see this issue on a smaller scale as most public places and even our own schools don’t fill the product dispensers and they often require a change to access. All of these factors led us to create the Carefree Campaign.

Samuel: Can you give us some notable examples of things the Carefree Campaign has been able to accomplish?
Carefree Campaign: Carefree Campaign has been very fortunate to have several amazing opportunities since we have started. One of our very notable achievements has been meeting with the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, and being able to be a part of her women’s history month project. We had the honor of explaining the campaign’s work to the governor and being posted on her social media. Lastly, one of our most notable accomplishments has been collecting and donating nearly 8,000 menstrual products to women’s shelters and food banks across Michigan.

Samuel: Can you tell us any plans for the Carefree Campaign? Any plans to expand or grow in any way?
Carefree Campaign: As of now, Carefree Campaign’s reach has been mainly in Michigan. Some of our plans for the near future include meeting with more government officials and donating more products to those who may be in need. In the coming years (long term), we hope to be able to donate the items we collect internationally and collaborate with organizations in countries like India, the United Kingdom, and more. We also hope to expand our team and build a national presence. One of our biggest future aspirations is to have the tampon and period tax repealed in the state of Michigan and eventually in other states as well.

Samuel: For anyone reading that is in another state, country, or continent, but aspires to create something like the Carefree Campaign, what advice and message do you have for them?
Carefree Campaign: Building Carefree Campaign was a learning opportunity for all three of us. Throughout the journey to becoming established, we’ve realized that some of the key things were finding people that share similar interests for the organization, getting your friends and family involved, building a strong network, and reaching out to similar organizations. If we had one message to anyone that aspires to create something similar to the Carefree Campaign, it would be to not forget the reason you started. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the work you are doing. It is extremely easy to get discouraged. For every 100 emails you send, maybe 10 people will respond. Remember to always take a step back and think of your mission.

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