Student group aims to increase access to menstrual products
Accessible Reproductive Healthcare Initiative works to make menstrual products accessible to women and families in the Madison area.Image By: Katie Scheidt
What started last year as a feminine product collection drive is now one of UW-Madison’s newest student organizations: Accessible Reproductive Healthcare Initiative.
The organization’s central mission is to “make menstrual products and resources as accessible to women and families in Madison as possible,” according to ARHI co-founder and president Jordan Madden.
The initiative began last school year when Madden and fellow ARHI co-founder and vice president Kendall Oehler, then a freshman, organized a drive in the residence halls on campus to collect feminine products such as menstrual pads, tampons and menstrual cups for low-income women and families in the Madison area. The success of the drive led to the formation of ARHI as an official student organization.
The organization hopes to address “not only getting these resources to these people, but also campaigning on campus for expanded reproductive resources,” Madden said.
Despite just being approved as a registered student organization at the end of last semester, ARHI is already working with other organizations on campus to accomplish larger goals. According to Madden, the group is collaborating with Associated Students of Madison and its Shared Governance Committee to work towards what has become one of ARHI’s main goals: getting feminine products into every bathroom on campus.
“I’m a guy, so when I walk into a bathroom, all the resources I need are there, and that’s not the same for different genders,” Madden said. “I think it’s important for students to help Madison take a role in becoming part of the 21st century.”
Madden partnered with ASM leaders in November to lobby the UW-Madison administration to offer free feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms at Bascom Hall.
But ARHI leaders have not forgotten their roots. During March, which is International Women’s Month, the organization will again be taking up a collection of menstrual products for their Bleeding Love campaign to distribute to low-income women and families in and around Madison. Collection sites will be located in the residence halls, the Campus Women’s Center Office, and Gender and Women’s Studies Department office, and possibly the student unions, according to Madden.
“Ideally, once the organization grows, so far as activity, I would ideally like to collect materials year-round instead of just March,” Madden said.
Madden also said that in the future, he hopes ARHI can play a role in other initiatives regarding reproductive health care, such as providing mammography services.
ARHI operates out of the Center for Cultural Enrichment in Witte Residence Hall.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter