Kotex's “4 Voices, 40 Minutes for Women and Girls” Featured Partners, Passion and Empowerment

May 28, 2020 11:20 AM ET

In ten years, the stigma and shame associated with menstruating could be dissolved worldwide, and millions more women could have access to period products than today, when half a billion go without.

These ambitious goals are within reach, said nonprofit leaders speaking Wednesday in “4 Voices, 40 Minutes for Women and Girls,” a Facebook Live discussion hosted by Kimberly-Clark and its Kotex brand as part of its new global She Can Initiative.

“Looking at the speed of change over the past six or seven years, we really can do it,” said Thorsten Kiefer, founder and CEO of WASH United and Menstrual Hygiene Day, which falls on May 28. “It’s up to governments, foundations, and individuals to step up our game to do more and invest more.” 

He was joined by Joanne Goldblum, CEO of National Diaper Bank Network and Alliance for Period Supplies; Shanna Marzilli, Chief Marketing Officer of Plan International USA, whose services include menstrual programming in 25-plus countries; and Kimberly-Clark’s Chief Growth Officer Alison Lewis.

“We can’t end the stigma without engaging young boys and men,” Marzilli noted, describing Plan International’s co-ed life skills classes in places like Nepal.

“It’s not just a women’s issue, this is a human issue, and men have to be part of it,” Kiefer said. “Don’t accept a PMS joke in the workplace. Let’s stand up when women are being discriminated against and stigmatized.”

One in four women in the US can’t afford period products, Goldblum pointed out, and young activists are embracing the cause. They’re advocating for period supplies in high school restrooms and legislative action on period products, Goldblum observed.

“The younger generation isn’t going to allow periods to remain hidden and women not to be able to do what they need to do just because of their period,” she said. “Never underestimate the power of one person and one action.’”

Kiefer was encouraged that 550 organizations representing almost every nation are now supporting Menstrual Hygiene Day, which was created only six years ago to educate people and de-stigmatize periods.

Kimberly-Clark is supporting the mission through the new global Kotex She Can Initiative, which includes a $2.5 million gift to Plan International to fund menstrual hygiene education and management.

Kotex, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, “is built on a promise to women that nothing should stand in the way of her progress,” Lewis said. “We’re extremely proud and humbled to partner with your organizations and to advocate together for women and girls.”

The Facebook Live session remains available for viewing at www.facebook.com/KimberlyClarkCorp