50 Cents. Period. Founder Named First Ambassador for Menstrual Hygiene Day

WASH United Appoints Lorrie Lynn King as Spokesperson for Event Designed to
Destigmatize Menstruation and Empower Women Worldwide

CLARKSTON GA (30 April 2014) – Lorrie Lynn King, founder and executive director of 50 Cents. Period., a non-profit organization providing reproductive healthcare and education to women and girls in marginalized societies in the U.S. and abroad, was announced today as WASH United’s first ambassador for Menstrual Hygiene Day.  Scheduled for 28 May 2014, Menstrual Hygiene Day advocates for a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation hygienically, in privacy, in safety and with dignity – wherever she is. This year marks the first of what is planned to be an annual recognition day.

“Lorrie’s work with underserved communities, such as refugee populations in the U.S., made her an outstanding choice for our first U.S. ambassador for Menstrual Hygiene Day,” said Ina Jurga, head of WASH in Schools at WASH United.  “Her mission in founding 50 Cents. Period. was to destigmatize menstruation, and give women and girls the opportunity to engage fully in community.  We love that she brings real passion and deep personal commitment to her work, and we look forward to her raising awareness about menstruation and menstrual hygiene.”

In her role as U.S. ambassador for Menstrual Hygiene Day, King will support the program’s mission to spread awareness of how women and girls are marginalized in many societies because of menstruation. The theme for this year’s event is “Let’s start the conversation about menstruation” in developing countries, emphasizing the fact that periods are normal and healthy parts of life. Together with over 85 global partners, there will be events in Berlin, Nairobi, Kathmandu, Delhi and many other cities. Meetings, workshops, educational programs, global film screenings and exhibitions will help to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. There will also be a social media campaign titled “May MENSTRAVAGANZA” asking for photos of supporters holding signs with the message “#MenstruationMatters because” with users filling in the blank. “#MenstruationMatters” is the official hashtag for all social media around Menstrual Hygiene Day.

One of the largest challenges in many communities is keeping girls in school. Many girls miss a week of school each month due to their periods, because of insufficient access to safe and private toilets, inconsistent supplies of water and soap for personal hygiene and inadequate disposal options. Furthermore, there is often limited access to affordable and hygienic sanitary materials and even underwear, leaving many women and girls to manage their periods in unsafe and unhygienic ways.

King’s organization, 50 Cents. Period., has set up programs in India, Nepal and parts of Africa to supply girls with not only the necessary sanitary supplies but reproductive healthcare education to help them better understand their own bodies. As WASH United’s Menstrual Hygiene Day ambassador, King will address these and other reproductive healthcare problems, such as the forced isolation and exclusion from society of women during menstruation, through public speaking engagements and media appearances.

“I am honored that WASH United has chosen me as the first U.S. ambassador for Menstrual Hygiene Day” said King, “and grateful for the recognition this will bring to our common mission. Only when they are no longer stigmatized because of their gender, their periods or their reproductive choices can women and girls realize their full potential and add social and economic power to their communities.”

About 50 Cents. Period.
50 Cents. Period. was established in 2010 to empower women and girls to stay fully engaged in their communities and education without the stigma and barriers surrounding their period, gender and reproductive choices. The organization takes its name from founder Lorrie Lynn King’s visit to Andhra Pradesh, India, where she discovered that many girls were unable to attend school during their menstruation because of lack of sanitary supplies – a problem that could be addressed with just fifty cents per month per girl.

The organization employs a holistic approach that seeks to empower women and girls through building their social and economic capacities. 50 Cents. Period focuses its programs and advocacy in underserved, traditionally marginalized communities, addressing such issues as chaupadi (the forced, ritualized exclusion of women during menstruation); rape warfare; living with HIV and FGM; and by providing sanitary products, reproductive health education workshops and curricula, clean water, and sanitation facilities. In tandem with these efforts, 50 Cents. Period furnishes linkages to care and connections to peer support and income generating projects.

At present, 50 Cents. Period program sites are located in Andhra Pradesh, India; the Kathmandu, Sindhupalchok and Karnali districts of Nepal; the Masaka, Kanungu, Rukungiri and Kasese regions of Uganda; and in the US in Clarkston, Georgia, the Southeastern epicenter of refugee resettlement. In May 2013, 50 Cents. Period concluded a six-month pilot program in Nicaragua, and is currently exploring Central American partnerships that serve indigenous women.