Every day, around 800,000 people in the world are menstruating. The ACLU estimates that at least 500,000 of them lack the adequate resources needed to manage their periods. Those resources not only include basic supplies — which can cost a person hundreds or even thousands of dollars over a lifetime — but also information, facilities and support.

The Boston-based nonprofit Love Your Menses was formed in response to this growing need for menstrual equity. Their goal is to provide education and support to anyone who menstruates. Dr. Ebere Azumah, co-founder and president of Love Your Menses, along with board member Dr. Hokehe Eko, joined All Things Considered host Arun Rath to discuss Love Your Menses’ efforts to achieve menstrual equity. The following is a lightly edited transcript.

Arun Rath: So, Dr. Azumah, let’s start with you. Tell us a little bit about Love Your Menses and how it began. I have to imagine your work as an OB-GYN has given you a front-row seat to a lot of these issues.

Dr. Ebere Azumah: Yes, it has. It really has. I personally remember when I was deciding on what career to go into, and I did a career evaluation, and it said I should become a journalist. The second was to become an educator, and the last was to become a physician. I really wanted to become a physician. That was when I was at the University of Michigan.

Fast-forward: I’m a physician now, and then here is Love Your Menses. This allows me to do all of it. It allows me to be a physician, to be an educator, to even become like a journalist. So I feel like Love Your Menses is just like a dream. Not everyone gets to have that dream manifest.

So the background story of Love Your Menses started in 2019. It was, at the time, an event where we went out to talk to the community about menstrual wellness. At that time, my cofounder was the one who spearheaded it.

After it was successful, we decided to go ahead and launch one in Washington, D.C. With my background at the time in global health — I was a student at Harvard — we decided, OK, let’s make this into a global organization. So that’s how we started: With a goal of elevating individuals, especially menstruators, and providing menstrual equity and wholeness. So it is so beautiful. It has evolved since then, but the beauty and the passion lets us keep going.

Rath: Dr. Eko, as a pediatrician, you must work with young people all the time who have just started menstruating. I’m curious about how Love Your Menses can help them, and if you see the inequities even with young people.

Dr. Hokehe Eko: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for that question, Arun. I grew up in Nigeria. I experienced firsthand seeing my friends and other young people going through menstrual inequities, meaning they couldn’t come to school during their period because they didn’t have access to pads and all of that.

I wanted to be a pediatrician since I was 5. And I was told by a doctor after I was in a car accident that I would not be able to go to medical school, but here I am.

I am so fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to talk to young girls when they are starting their periods. Believe it or not, lots of parents feel uncomfortable talking to their kids about periods, and so they often end up in my office, where we talk through it and explain how this is a normal part of growing older. I explain to the parents and the child how if moms are open to talking — and even dads — are open to talking about the periods, that already creates a strong bond between the child and themselves.

At the end of it, as a pediatrician, I see my role as the facilitator of strengthening that bond between parent and child. That’s why I accepted when Dr. Azumah asked me to be on the board because, as pediatricians, we’re at the forefront of helping out young — especially Black and Brown girls — and helping them to understand the normal part of growing up and influence in ways that their bond with their parents can strengthen.

Rath: A couple of weeks ago, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement announced a menstrual equity pilot program. Dr. Azumah, could you start off telling us a bit about how Love Your Menses is involved in this collaboration?

Azumah: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, we’re so excited to be launching or piloting this program with Mayor Michelle Wu. So the goal is to team up with the Boston Public Library and provide menstrual equity education, and to distribute free menstrual products to the community.

We are going to be the ones using our curriculum. ... So we are going to be introducing to the community at large what menstrual equity means, what period poverty means, how they could become advocates, how we should destigmatize menstruation just to normalize it, because I think we are now at a point where everyone wants equity in menstrual health — at least I think, but I have to say I’m a very optimistic person. So this is a great opportunity, and we feel very, very fortunate.

Rath: Dr. Eko, with young people, I know we’ve come a long way. I mean, I wouldn’t even have this kind of conversation in the middle of the afternoon when I was a kid. But how much further do we have to go, especially when we’re thinking about how young people are looking at these issues?

Eko: That’s a great question. With the way the world is going, everything is online. Lots of use of devices, right? I see firsthand how parents and children can be in the same room and not even be speaking to each other, and each person is on their device. I feel like I’m seeing more and more parents bringing their kids to me to talk about these issues.

So that’s why the Love Your Menses program is so important, because this is a normal part of growing up, and you can start the conversation early. It doesn’t have to be a big, overwhelming conversation, right? Just have these conversations because our children are growing up so much faster than we think, and all of this information is out there, and they’re learning things from school. And so it’s time for us parents to get back in the driver’s seat and start having these conversations again and strengthen that bond that we have with our children, because that’s how they’re going to grow up to become successful and want to advocate for others, as well.

Rath: I think that’s probably going to be a great motivator for parents, speaking as one, thinking that if it’s not going to come from us or our doctors, it’s going to come from social media.

Eko: Yes, absolutely. And there’s so much misinformation, and so the ball is in our court to guide the narrative for what our children are learning.

Azumah: I like the fact that the information we are providing, as Dr. Eko has shared, is evidence-based information, so we know that the quality is great just because it’s been done over the years. Since 2019, we’ve provided this information globally.

We just launched our trainer program with Uganda being the first cohort, and they enjoyed it, so we are confident that the community we serve will also enjoy it because we make science so friendly because we all have public health backgrounds as well, not just being physicians.