( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) First Black Menstrual Hygiene Day Receives Citation from Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus
ENSPIRE Contributor: Chaste Inegbedion
Juneteenth marks when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free. That occurred on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, the news of their freedom. Sanicle.us, in collaboration with CF Industries, proudly hosted the groundbreaking ‘Period Party,’ a prelude to Menstrual Hygiene Day, which raises awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
Menstrual Hygiene Day, observed annually on May 28, aligns with the average length of a menstrual cycle of 28 days, with an average menstruation duration of five days per month. This year’s theme, “Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030,” as stated by Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, emphasizes the need to destigmatize menstruation globally.
The first day of the Black Menstrual Health Summit on May 26, conducted virtually, focused on highlighting the disparities faced by Black women regarding menstrual health and involving men in the conversation. Diverse speakers from various organizations, backgrounds, and ethnicities came together to share their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives on menstrual health, particularly within the Black community.
“We are excited about hosting this edition as we have witnessed the potential of a cohesive community for Black Menstrual Health,” expressed Dr. Ray Owen of The Met Church. “We have found this summit to be an effective tool in keeping the community engaged, and we are glad to have collaborated with Sanicle during Martin Luther King Day and World Menstrual Hygiene Day.”
The summit featured esteemed speakers including Tosin Oni and Zaakirah Muhammad of Sanicle, Priscilla Siwela of Manevia, Hawa Diallo of the United Nations, Ogene Jude Ogbodo of Town Crier Initiative, Stephen Yinka Oguntoyinbo of Alarinka Communications, and Kolawole Elisah Akinmuyiwa of Roses Natural. These individuals shared their insights on tackling period poverty, combating exclusion in menstrual health discussions, cultural perceptions of menstruation, and religious perspectives on black women menstruating.
The discussions extended to the challenges faced by black women and girls, with tangible solutions proposed by the speakers to increase awareness of menstrual health. The summit also included a watch party featuring a pre-recorded roundtable conversation with women from Ghana, moderated by Dr. Delia Gillis of the University of Central MO, Giftologi Limited, Pamm Takyiwaa of WH Ghana, Dr. Patricia S. Richardson of Landmark Healthcare, and Erica M Daniel.
The second day, May 27, 2023, shed light on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in raising public awareness of menstrual health. Nehemiah D. Frank, the founder of The Black Wall Street Times, delivered the keynote speech, highlighting the need to challenge stigmas and create a more inclusive society.
Representative Amanda Swope shed light on the challenges faced by black and Native women, addressing the need for policy changes to enhance access to period products. Notably, she emphasized the critical moment when she assumed office and discovered that correctional facilities were denying female incarcerated inmates access to necessary period products.
The representative expressed her enthusiasm for Senator Jessica Garvin’s bill, which aims to combat period poverty—an often overlooked issue affecting many women in Oklahoma. The proposed legislation allocates $1 million from sales tax revenue to establish a program starting in the 2024 fiscal year. Local health departments can apply for funds from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), with grants awarded based on the specific needs of the served population.
In addition, the bill introduces a refundable sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products, including tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar items related to feminine hygiene during the menstrual cycle. Women would be eligible for a refund of the sales tax paid on these products by providing their receipts to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for qualifying purchases made in the previous year.
Representative Swope found personal resonance with the mission of the summit, particularly in promoting father involvement. Having grown up with a single father because of her parent’s divorce, she recognized the importance of advocating for justice system reform.
On behalf of The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, she presented the Citation of Black Menstrual Hygiene Day, highlighting the significance of the occasion.
The women’s panel, moderated by Caragan Tillman of Tulsa Innovation Labs, featured Aiko Pickering of Monthly, Chrystvan D. Cross of PERIOD. Oklahoma City, Rose Hurd of With Love Births, and Dominique Clarke of Tulsa Remote. These multigenerational women discussed their personal experiences with menstruation, the affordability of period products, and strategies to combat the stigma surrounding menstrual health. They emphasized the importance of including both boys and girls in discussions about periods.
Chaste Inegbedion, also known as Mr. Padman, took the stage to highlight his career journey and the creation of Sanicle in the menstrual health industry. As the Chief Product Officer at Sanicle, Chaste emphasized the significance of involving men in menstrual health conversations and introduced the “Period Passport,” a self-help guide to educate fathers and daughters about menstruation.
The diverse industry-focused men’s panel, moderated by Dr. Ben Barenberg, MD, FPMRS of Optimal Health, discussed menstruation and menstrual health. Panelists included Joshua Bowers of Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce, Juhon Irons of KIPP Schools, Darrel Frater of Visible Hands, Kyle Smith of Builders and Backers, Marquess Dennis of Tulsa Dream Center, and Claudio Nascimento of CF Industries. They explored how organizations can better support female employees during their menstrual cycles and encouraged more men to engage in menstrual health outreach.
“Claudio Nascimento of CF Industries expresses our pride in partnering with Sanicle to address the critical issue of period poverty. Through our Our Communities program, which is aligned with our Vision 2030 goal to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, we aim to create a positive impact that resonates with Sanicle’s mission.” stated Mr. Nascimento.
He further added, “CF Industries firmly believes in supporting the communities where we live and work, and we demonstrate this commitment through financial donations, personal time, and a localized giving strategy that aligns with our business objectives.
The topic of period poverty resonates deeply with our team, as I, as a first-generation graduate from a humble background in Rio, have personally experienced the transformative power of support. I am grateful for the unwavering support of my mother, my high school sweetheart, and most notably, my sister, who selflessly donated her kidney to save my life. These experiences have fueled my passion for breaking taboos and fostering open discussions about these challenges. I wholeheartedly encourage men to be exemplars of change and contribute to meaningful progress in this area.”
Justin Harlan, Managing Director at Tulsa Remote, extends warm congratulations to Chaste, a valued member of Tulsa Remote, and co-founder Roxanne for their exceptional contributions to the Tulsa community since their relocation. Their dedication and efforts in hosting the first-ever Black Menstrual Health Summit in Tulsa have helped to promote awareness and address important issues surrounding menstrual health. Dr. Harlan commends their commitment to fostering positive change and their valuable impact on the community. Their contributions are truly commendable and have made a lasting difference in Tulsa.
The summit fostered a remarkable environment for learning and networking, expanding the community of like-minded individuals committed to addressing the challenges faced by Black women. By promoting open conversations about menstrual health, Sanicle aims to eliminate fear, ridicule, and stigma surrounding the topic.
“A specially-curated period menu with delectable food and drinks with an emphasis on nutritional benefits from Onifade Cookies, the vendors, and potential partners we are committed to working with going forward, like accessing Impact Investment from Visible Hands, all showing off the Menstruation Bracelet as a symbol of the menstrual cycle to help #EndPeriodStigma and celebrate women’s equality,” stated Roxanne Stewart.
Sanicle had the privilege of being featured on IG Live with two influential hosts. Pimkiepriscilla, with over 199k followers, and Cutekimani, with over 66k followers, invited Sanicle as a special guest to discuss the significance of Black Menstrual Hygiene Day. It was an engaging conversation that shed light on important menstrual health issues and fostered awareness among a wide audience.
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Watch the virtual summit