The Public Affairs Council Honors International Paper for Grassroots Innovation Award for Period Poverty Initiative

The Public Affairs Council honored the winners of the 2024 Innovation Awards during its annual Advocacy Conference in Austin, Texas on January 30, 2024. International Paper won in the category of Grassroots Innovation for our Period Poverty Initiative to combat period poverty in communities and raise awareness of the issue facing women and girls. Meaghan Joyce, director of political & advocacy strategy, accepted the award on behalf of International Paper and provided an overview of the campaign during the award ceremony.

Period poverty is the lack of access to period products and education – it affects at least 500 million women and girls globally, even in the most economically developed countries. In the U.S., 1 in 5 girls have missed school due to the lack of access to period products – that is more than 3.5 million girls. It’s an issue that leads to a number of problems like school truancy, reproductive issues, health risks and unnecessary shame.

That is why IP launched its award winning Fighting Period Poverty in Our Communities program in 2020 by hosting a series of menstrual product packing and donation events globally to raise awareness about period poverty with employees and provide Period Care kits to people who need them the most in the communities where we operate.

Person holding an award

IP partnered with our customer Procter & Gamble, maker of the Always brand, to assemble and distribute kits containing menstrual products. Last year, IP hosted packing events in 62 locations across nine countries, donating more than 31,000 kits containing 720,000 units of menstrual products.

A hallmark of the program is to advocate for passage of legislation like the Menstrual Equity for All Act, introduced in 2021 and 2023, to expand access to menstrual products in schools and government buildings. To date, 25 states have passed laws to provide free period products in some capacity. There is a need for national change to solve the issue of period poverty.

“The ingenuity, creativity and political savvy of our members once again amazes me,” says Council President Doug Pinkham. “This year’s Innovation Award winners take our understanding of innovation to a new and increasingly sophisticated level, offering a model for other organizations to aspire to. What they have done and continue to do is inspiring.”

person talking

“It is an honor to be recognized alongside some of the top advocacy organizations in the business,” said Meaghan Joyce. “Our period poverty initiative has grown exponentially in its four-year history and we’ll continue to innovate, expand and take action on this important issue. Collaboration is essential to combat period poverty and our ability to engage diverse stakeholders toward a common goal is a key to our success.”

Other winners include Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in the Communications Innovation category for raising awareness of the challenges people in the disability community face in air travel and building support for accessibility improvements to air travel during FAA reauthorization, and Grupo Estrategia Politica (GEP)in the Lobbying Innovation category for their successful campaign that strengthened the efforts to regain the Category 1 safety classification for the Mexican aviation industry after it was downgraded to Category 2 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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