top of page
  • Writer's pictureProject Voices


I originally wrote this piece as a speech for a school assignment on women’s rights issues. However, doing this research led me to some pretty shocking and alarming statistics, most of which I was completely unaware of before writing this speech. Despite being one of the most commonly discussed topics, sexism is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects women in thousands of harmful ways - only two of which I was able to cover in this speech. As I mentioned in my speech, educating ourselves is the first step towards solving the pressing problem of women’s rights in America.

Throughout the history of our nation, women’s voices have time and again been ignored. Whether it be through lack of autonomy, lack of representation, or lack of respect, this repression has affected women in so many aspects of our lives, including the healthcare system. Our rights are violated by issues such as the “Tampon Tax” and disproportionately high maternal mortality rates amongst low-income and Black demographics.

The Tampon Tax refers to a sales tax on menstrual products. While twenty states, including Massachusetts, no longer implement the Tampon Tax, the states that do are basically stating that tampons, sanitary pads, or other menstrual hygiene products are luxury, or nonessential, items. By taxing menstrual products and making them even more unaffordable for underprivileged women, we, as a nation, are contributing to menstrual poverty and forcing women to resort to unsafe methods of managing their periods. These unsafe methods can lead, and have led to, serious health consequences like toxic shock syndrome or even death. It also prevents women from being able to go about their daily lives and work jobs without having to worry about their period. We cannot claim to be one of the greatest nations in the world when we are taxing women for their health and livelihoods Furthermore, why should we continue taxing life-saving hygiene products, when things like golf memberships or a certain “little blue pill” are not?

In 2020, the number of maternal deaths, per 100,000 live births, was 19.1. For white women. The number of maternal deaths amongst Black women, per that same 100,000 live births, was 55.8. So, why is it that the maternal mortality rate for Black women is nearly three times higher than white women? This phenomenon can be explained by two main reasons. Firstly, many women of color, who live in areas with less-than optimal healthcare options or who do not have insurance, do not have access to the standards of healthcare they deserve. Secondly, another reason women of color are dying postpartum at a disproportionate rate, is that their health concerns are so frequently neglected and overlooked. Take Serena Williams and Beyoncé, two of the most successful women in their respective fields. Both of these women had concerns regarding their health after giving birth that were simply dismissed, similar to millions of other women of color. Turns out, both women had life-threatening conditions that could have been prevented much more easily had they been caught sooner. It is so important that U.S. citizens are informed and aware of these facts. Knowledge is the first step in addressing such implicit bias in obstetrics, and eventually lowering the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country. Every woman’s right to good health should be just as much of a legal right as any other personal right.

Works Cited

Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). Code of Federal Regulations. U.S. Department of Labor, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

Hoyert, Donna L., Ph.D. "Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Feb. 2022, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

"Paid Family Leave Across OECD Countries." Bipartison Policy Center, 1 Mar. 2022, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

Rodriguez, Leah. "The Tampon Tax: Everything You Need to Know." Global Citizen, 28 June 2021, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

"Why are black women at such high risk of dying from pregnancy complications?" Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms, American Heart Association, 20 Feb. 2019, Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.


bottom of page