In 2018, Katie Clark embarked on a mission that would transform her life and the lives of countless others. As the Founder of the Arkansas Period Poverty Project, Katie’s story is one of passion, determination, and collaboration, where the League of Women Voters of Arkansas (LWVAR) played a crucial role.

Katie’s journey began with a book, “Period Power” by Nadya Okamoto. In its pages, Nadya shared her own experience with period poverty, revealing a world where some missed school because they couldn’t access menstrual products. Katie was shocked and inspired. She couldn’t ignore the fact that this issue likely affected teens and adults in her own community.

Driven by a desire to make a change, Katie took action. She reached out to school principals across Little Rock, asking a simple but profound question: “Are your students missing school because of period poverty?” The majority answered “yes,” and with that, the Arkansas Period Poverty Project was born.

Katie’s initiative had a clear mission: donations, education, and legislation. The Arkansas Period Poverty Project began by donating period packs to schools across the state, ensuring students had access to products both at home and at school.

The League of Women Voters didn’t just stand by; they became an essential part of Katie’s journey. Members of the League of Women Voters of Pulaski County organized donation drives that supported the cause. LWVAR members, both locally and statewide, offered invaluable assistance—donating products, assembling period packs, delivering supplies to schools, and engaging in advocacy efforts to promote menstrual equity policy. Though needs were being met, Katie knew there was still more to be done.

The project turned to education, sharing vital information on menstrual health via social media. Their aim was to empower young people with knowledge about their bodies, normalize discussions around menstruation, and teach them how to advocate for themselves. Yet, they recognized that lasting change required policy reform. In 2021 and 2023, the Arkansas Period Poverty Project worked to address issues with the tampon tax with the state legislature; however, this ultimately led to multiple roadblocks. 

Earlier this year, LWVAR approached Katie with an intriguing idea: a ballot measure. Taking the issue directly to the people seemed like the logical next step. Many Arkansans were living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford diapers and period products, and Katie believed they deserved a say in the matter.

Due to LWVAR’s extensive experience in ballot measures, the league was involved in the drafting process and advised on navigating the intricate path ahead.

The journey hasn’t been without its challenges. The Arkansas Attorney General rejected the original ballot title. However, this setback provided a chance to clarify the initiative’s objectives and incorporate diapers into the tax exemption, a change that resonated with many supporters. This Project obtained approval for the revised ballot title  –  significant milestone.

Katie’s initiative is connecting with the community through newsletters, social media, local news interviews, partnerships with like-minded organizations, and presentations at community meetings. The public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Katie’s mission goes beyond policy change. By eliminating the tax on period products and diapers, she hopes to alleviate financial burdens on Arkansas families and move closer to ending period poverty. But there’s more; she aims to raise awareness about period poverty in Arkansas, ensuring the issue is in the spotlight.

Katie’s involvement with the Arkansas Period Poverty Project and LWVAR aligns with her calling to impact the lives of women and girls and enhance their full participation in democracy. Reflecting on her journey, she is grateful to everyone who has joined her mission.

Katie’s message to readers is clear: there are numerous ways to get involved with the Arkansas Period Poverty Project. Sign up for newsletters, educate your network about period poverty, donate products or money, join canvassing efforts, and sign the petition. Katie’s dedication and collaboration with LWVAR exemplify the incredible impact individuals and organizations can have when working together for a common cause.

Katie’s story is a testament to the power of passion and collaboration. Join her in making a difference in the lives of menstruators in Arkansas, and together, let’s achieve menstrual equity and create a more just and equitable society for all.