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In Celebration of Female (and Menstrual) Equality

March is always our favorite month as we celebrate International Women’s Day (3/8) though we say it should be every day.

As a brand founded by women, for women, we love to celebrate and champion the huge progress women have made in the name of equality. So we love that this year’s IWD theme #EachforEqual shines the spotlight on the continued fight for gender, financial, social, political, and cultural equality.

As we honor the achievements of inspirational women all over the world, we also take our hat off to every woman — the dynamos who go to school, work, raise kids, run marathons, volunteer, and do a million other things every day selflessly and often at the sacrifice of their own needs.

Without a doubt, the biggest equalizer among women is that we do all of this while menstruating every month. On average, we spend 2,535 days, or around seven years, dealing with the pain, discomfort, and disruption of our periods. And yet many of us have never thought to question that suffering — which we either do with a stiff upper lip or by canceling important plans - does not have to be an accepted part of life.

We launched Cleo with a mission to liberate you from period pain, suffering, and disruption and keep you on your A-game every day with a collection of health- and wellness-focused solutions that provide complete relief for every symptom. And from your feedback and much-welcomed comments on our social platforms, we know that this has indeed been a game-changer. Yes, we are here to tell you, it’s 2020, and in the name of equality and empowerment, the days of suffering are over. Thank you for joining us as we break the cycle together.

You + Menstrual Equality

You may have heard the term “menstrual equality,” which is about ensuring everyone has access to both period-related products and reproductive health education. Here are some ways you can join the conversation and bring some menstrual activism into your day-to-day:

Donate menstruation-related products to women in need

We may be the most advanced country in the world on many levels, but when it comes to income equality, women are still lagging far behind. Women make, on average, about 85 cents for every dollar men earn. And we’re far more likely to live below the poverty line: nearly 12.9% of women, compared to 10.6% of the 158.7 million U.S. men.

Now, add to those staggering facts that women can’t use food stamps or other public funding to buy pads or tampons (never mind health insurance or Medicaid) because those items aren’t considered “necessities.” Say what? We say that’s outrageous discrimination to deny women access to basic human needs. So the next time you give groceries to a local food pantry, consider making it feminine hygiene products, pain relievers, or other period-related products that can provide comfort to those who need it most. Donate to those who menstruate.

Protest the tampon tax

Did you know that in 31 states, you can buy Viagra, tax-free, but for the pleasure of purchasing a box of tampons or pads, you pay sales tax? That adds up to about $150 million each year on menstrual products. It’s not only NOT fair, but it’s also unconstitutional — and it has to stop, period. Check out Marie Claire’s state-by-state rundown on the status of the tampon tax. There you can sign a legal declaration in protest. You can also take matters into your own hands and call your local congress member to complain. Tax that!

Binge on empowerment

Educating yourself about menstrual inequity worldwide is easier now than ever before, thanks to activist artists. You can start by watching the 2018 Oscar-winning documentary, Period. End of Sentence (available on Netflix) about the stigma of periods in rural India. Also making the film circuit is Pandora’s Box: Lifting the Lid on Menstruation, which takes a deep dive into the global pandemic of menstrual inequity and period poverty. If reading is more your style, then we recommend Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, written by Nadya Okamoto and illustrated by Rebecca Elfast, Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, and Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain by Abby Norman.

Listen to your body

Each woman’s body is affected differently by menstruation, yet we all have something in common: we tend to ignore what our’s is saying to us. We’ve been taught to press on, even in the face of debilitating cramps, crushing headaches, sore breasts, and a whole host of other symptoms that can be exacerbated by conditions like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Stop writing off brain fog to PMS or push yourself when you honestly don’t have the energy. Turn to safe, effective, natural alternatives for period-related pain relief that are free from the long list of side effects associated with NSAIDs. (This is a big part of Cleo’s mission 💯.) And stay tuned to this blog to learn about how your body works, and how you can work it to your advantage by embracing better health and self-care. Know how to go with your flow.

Share your stories

Menstruation used to be taboo, even though nearly half the world’s population gets a period for several decades of their lives. Open, honest conversation is the best way to combat the mystery and stigma that surrounds what we’d argue is the most natural, creative bodily function. If you need a place to let your menstrual musings fly, be sure to join the convo over on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

When we join together in the fight for equality, dignity, and women’s rights, there is no stopping us. Here’s to International Women’s Day and to our goal of finally, truly being #EachforEqual.

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