Hopkinton non-profit Dignity Matters reached a milestone in the fight against period poverty last week: 10 million free menstrual care items and undergarments distributed to women and girls across Massachusetts. 60% of those items were distributed in the last 24 months.
Founded in 2016, Dignity Matters is the largest nonprofit in Massachusetts dedicated to providing a reliable supply of free menstrual care to people who cannot afford these items. Menstrual care is expensive, rarely donated, and cannot be purchased with SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC, or any other federal or state program. Per the Alliance for Period Supplies, 2 in 5 women struggle to afford menstrual care; 1 in 4 students miss class, and 1 in 3 women living in poverty miss school or work because they can’t afford these items.
“Being unable to afford menstrual care is a deal breaker – without it, you can’t go to school, work, or live a full life. We don’t want period poverty to hold women and girls back,” said Kate Sanetra-Butler, Founder & Executive Director
Dignity Matters provides free menstrual care to 15,000 women each month in partnership with 170 homeless shelters, food pantries, public schools, and community colleges across Massachusetts. Founder and Executive Director Kate Sanetra-Butler (who started the non-profit after a homeless teenager asked her for a spare tampon in Copley Square) was recognized by Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu for Dignity Matters’ efforts to help women and girls as she received the 2023 Feminist in Action Award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women (MassNOW) on September 28th.
“I want to congratulate Kate Sanetra-Butler, Founder and Executive Director of Dignity Matters, and this year’s Feminist in Action awardee…we appreciate everything you do, and we can’t wait to work with you together in the years ahead,” said Governor Maura Healey.
MassNOW and Dignity Matters are part of a coalition working to pass the I AM Bill, which would mandate free menstrual products in public schools, shelters, and prisons in Massachusetts. The bill was introduced in 2019 and passed the MA Senate by unanimous vote in October; it is unclear when it could advance to a vote in the MA House. 20 other states have already passed laws that mandate free menstrual care in schools.