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Everyone misses work or school once in a while. They’ll take a sick day, recuperate and are back in the office or classroom a day later. But some young women and girls miss more than one day of school every now and then. They may be forced to skip school every month because they can’t afford sanitary products — putting them days, weeks and even months behind their peers.
Brooke and Breanna Bennett, twin sisters from Montgomery, Alabama, were first introduced to this issue when they saw their mother, a teacher, providing menstrual products to students. The girls were shocked to learn peers had to ask their teacher for these necessary items — and that on average, one in five girls miss school because they don’t have access to them.
“I couldn’t believe girls were missing school because of their period,” Breanna said. “Every girl gets their period, so I thought every girl had access to period products.”
Moved by their mother’s story, the girls were motivated to take action on behalf of their peers, starting in their own community.
So, for their 12th birthday they decided to donate menstrual products to an after-school program for low-income students living in public housing. They thought they were making a one-time contribution, but after seeing the effect it had on the young women, it turned into much more — and that day, they became 12-year-old founders of Women in Training, an organization dedicated to ending period poverty. Moving forward, Women in Training became an official nonprofit and with the help of their mom, they began providing their signature “WITKITS” and menstrual education to young women and girls.
“We founded Women in Training because we believe having a period shouldn’t stop you from living your life,” Brooke said. “Young women and girls deserve to feel comfortable and clean wherever they go — and they should have equal access to the products they need.”
So, what are WITKITS?
“WITKITS are packed canvas bags full of pads and personal hygiene products like body wash, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss for young women and girls who need them most,” Breanna explained. “We deliver them to public schools, after-school programs, homeless shelters, runaway teen shelters, orphanages, foster care facilities and more.”
Women in Training distributes 600 WITKITS monthly across Alabama. They have also supplied WITKITS to young women, girls and gender-expansive youth in Washington, DC and New Orleans, with plans to expand nationally and globally. The organization also provides menstrual education to girls in after-school programs, shelters and more. As young women themselves, Brooke and Breanna have a unique ability to connect with their peers and make them feel comfortable and heard.
“Oftentimes, I think it can be uncomfortable when someone comes into your home or community and forces products on you because of your financial situation,” Brooke said. “But when we talk to these girls, they are open, engaged and excited to learn. It really inspired me to continue making the topic of period poverty a conversation and to make these girls feel safe.”
Women in Training has also lobbied for period poverty legislation in Washington, DC. The Bennetts were instrumental in championing House Bill 50 in Alabama, which mandates free period products be provided in public schools. A representative introduced the bill in 2020 after meeting with Brooke and Breanna, and it was signed into law in 2022.
“Young women should never have to miss out on opportunities because they lack resources for basic wellness,” said Rashada Whitehead, Grant Thornton’s national managing director of Culture, Immersion & Inclusion. “We’re so impressed by what Brooke and Breanna have accomplished addressing an important and often ignored issue, especially at such a young age. They are exactly the types of proactive and creative advocates we set out to support when we created our Purple Paladin program: everyday heroes who dare to dream — and to take action to make a difference.”
The Bennett sisters, now 15, have big dreams. Breanna wants to be a doctor, and Brooke wants to become a lawyer. While juggling school, running and tennis, they somehow find time to keep growing Women in Training. Moving forward, their hope is to help pass laws similar to House Bill 50 in other states and at the national level through the Menstrual Equity for All Act. And, they want to inspire fellow young women to stand up for issues they believe in and drive change in their communities.
Join Women in Training and the Bennett sisters by contributing to their cause or by creating WITKITS in your own community — and help end period poverty.