Molly Hayward: How to Help Women in Need During That Time of the Month

July 23 - Sheena Sharma

FIRST THOUGHT: A Monthly Experience Unlike Any Other

“Of course, I got my period today,” my bestie said. It was moving day with her two kiddos and there was no way she was going to find a tampon or pad among the boxes. Have you ever experienced something like this? From navigating pool parties in middle school to first-date surprises in your 20s, it can be such a pain to deal with Aunt Flo. Physical pain and discomfort, along with tampon and pad expenses, can amount to a pretty bad monthly experience. Periods are just one testament to how we girls and women are strong as hell.


We’re often super annoyed at our time of the month, but imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have access to any personal-care items. Worldwide, many girls and women suffer through unimaginable circumstances without those menstrual supplies. Some girls stay home or even drop out of school once they reach puberty and start their periods. Guess what else? According to female-empowerment organization Cora, 300 million girls and women throughout the world manage their periods with unsuitable things like rags, sand and plastic.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Molly Hayward, Co-founder of Cora

Today’s Woman to Watch, Molly Hayward, is speaking out about women’s shared experience of menstrual periods. While many girls—particularly those without access to adequate sanitary products—feel shame during this very natural event, Molly is saying, “Enough!”

She co-founded Cora, a company that aims to ease the stresses of women in need by fighting for gender equality and providing them with products for their periods. During Molly’s college trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, she saw the effects of poverty on women. She returned with a sense of social activism. Molly learned helping girls and women with menstruation also helps them in other avenues of life, like access to education.

With Cora, women can sign up for monthly pad and tampon deliveries. It gets better: With every set of pads you purchase monthly, Cora sends a month’s worth of pads and provides reproductive-health education to a girl in a developing nation. From an aesthetic point of view, Cora’s got most other menstrual-product companies beat. There’s no girlish packaging, no gimmicky advertising. Cora products are sleek, and some tampons are even sold applicator-free.

These products are exceptional because unlike conventional maxi pads and tampons—which are often made with rayon, polyester or “dirty” cotton that’s produced with pesticides and chemicals—Cora’s pads and tampons are made with all-natural and ethically sourced ingredients.

But it isn’t just women in developing countries who struggle with period-related issues like the cost of menstrual supplies. Molly spoke with Chelsea Handler about the so-called “tampon tax,” a sales tax on tampons and pads that varies according to which state you live in. That means not only do we ladies have to spend money to accommodate this thing we never asked for (California women alone spend more than $20 million a year just in taxes related to the purchase of menstrual supplies!), but we’ve also got to pay an added fee. Not cool.

Aside from having to put up with this women-only tax, indigent women suffer further since menstrual products aren’t covered by food stamps in America, and are certainly not complimentary in most public restrooms. Molly has built relationships with nonprofits to address this lack of access, providing more than 100,000 products to girls and women throughout the United States. She also encourages women to get in touch with their state representatives to discuss lowering the prices and taxes of menstrual supplies.

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It’s hard to fit everything Molly Hayward is doing for girls and women into a pocket-sized package. Let’s let her words finish the day:

“When you feel good and you’re thriving in and of yourself, that radiates out into everything you’re doing.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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