“One of the biggest blessings about being an actor,” said Rodriguez, is a platform that enables you to speak on important matters.
Gina Rodriguez is best known for her award-winning role in “Jane the Virgin,” but the actress, producer and activist has long championed many causes, especially education. Her latest mission is bringing an end to what is known as “period poverty” and its effect on young women’s school attendance and educational opportunities.
Nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have had to miss or leave school because they lacked access to products such as sanitary napkins during their menstrual period, in large part due to economic factors, according to a survey commissioned by Always. Rodriguez partnered with the brand to bring attention to the period poverty epidemic through the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, which aims to donate 15 million period products to school pantry programs across the U.S.
“Education is the end all, be all. It is the reason I am here today, it is the reason I have had the opportunities that I have had,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez recalled how her education shaped her successful artistic journey. During her sophomore year of high school, Rodriguez’s religious studies teacher taught her about the role of the griot, or storyteller, in West African cultures. Had she missed that class, which inspired her to use acting as storytelling, her trajectory may have been very different, said Rodriguez.
The focus on how menstruation can unfortunately limit girls’ and women’s lives around the world — from the lack of products to cultural taboos, has gained traction. Recently Meghan Markle, who earlier this year married Britain’s Prince Harry, brought attention to the issue in India. In the U.S., women are pushing state legislatures to ensure access to products in places like prisons; New York City became the first to require free tampons and sanitary pads in correctional facilities, public schools and homeless shelters.
For Rodriguez, ensuring that young girls in the U.S. have access to products during their periods is doable.
“I want to bridge that gap. I want to end that statistic that we have here in this country. And we are capable of doing this,” she said. “One of the biggest blessings about being an actor is that you’re given a platform that you can speak on things that matter to you,” Rodriguez said.
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