Access to menstrual products is a human rights issue that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. One organization at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is hoping to change that by providing free menstrual products to all students.  

Pads For Pals was an idea that came from Access For Sex Ed, a group for college students, in 2016.

“The whole club always wanted a way for people to get free pads,” Cathryn Torres of Access For Sex-Ed said. “It’s a part of repro health that people don’t really talk about.”

While Pads For Pals initially started two years ago, it really started to build momentum once Nina Zamarripa, a Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity chapter leader, got involved.

“It was on a hiatus,” Torres said about where the project was before Zamarripa jumped on board. “But Nina has really helped this project become alive and she deserves a ton of credit.”

Torres and Zamarripa applied for funding from Advocates For Youth, a non-profit organization and advocacy group dedicated to sex education, but weren’t hopeful about their chances.

“We didn’t think we were going to get chosen,” Zamarripa said.

They ultimately chose to fund the Pads For Pals after Torres and Zamarripa presented the details to them about their project.

UT-RGV Edinburg campus students interested in picking up pads can do so at the student pantry and the Office for Victim Advocacy & Violence Prevention (OVAVP).

“The reason why we are doing this, it’s kind of a way to create data to present to the university,” Torres said. “So we will have those two stations be distribution spots, and it’ll be confidential. As people go, they sign in, and that’s how we know how many people have gone, and we see what the demand is.”

One of the many things that Torres and Zamarripa are working on is a petition, both on campus and online, where they ask “Guy Bailey, the president of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to affirm his support and make change to UTRGV’s policy in order to make menstrual products free and available.” They currently have about 500 signatures.
In the past years, Torres has organized benefit shows to support La Frontera Fund, a local practical support abortion fund, which her and Zamarripa are also a part of. The next benefit show that Torres, along with Zamarripa, are working on is Y2K Night at Yerberia Cultura, which will be a dance party on April 7.

“I’m really excited. I’m never thrown a show before, so it’s really interesting to do this,” Zamarripa said.  

The lineup includes DJ Queenkillahbee, DG Garagedogg, and DJ McNasty playing their favorite jams from 2000 – 2010 all night long.  

“I’ll be real, I just love the early 2000s,” Torres said laughing. “When we talk about it, people seem pretty excited. So hopefully we get a good turnout.”

The event is open to all ages, open to everyone, and will be an inclusive space, Torres said. At some point during the event, Torres and Zamarripa plan to talk about the mission behind Pads For Pals.   

The goal of the event is to get the community to come out and support Pads For Pals and to make menstrual products accessible for all students.

“The reason why we are having this event, it’s because we want to get an influx of donations and pads,” Torres said. “People can take pads or tampons to go in, or $5 if they are shy, but don’t be shy. But if they are shy, you can bring $5 and the money will go to buy more pads.”