A Step Towards Change

Sophomores Becca Houlehan and Izzy Zschoche provide feminine hygiene products to those in need through their organization, Equity. Period., and have expanded their work to legislative activism to inspire change in the community.


Sophomores Becca Houlehan and Izzy Zschoche stand with Kansas state Representative Mari-Lynn Poskin Monday, Feb. 6.

Sophomores Becca Houlehan and Izzy Zschoche met with Kansas state representatives Jerry Stogsdill and Mari-Lynn Poskin Monday, Feb. 6, to advocate for House Bill 2111, which would end sales tax on food and food ingredients, as well as provide an exemption from the Kansas state sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products. Additionally, Tuesday, Feb. 7, Houlehan testified in front of the House and Senate tax committees to express the necessity of the bill.

Houlehan and Zschoche co-run a charity organization called Equity. Period., which collects feminine hygiene products for women in need. They have operated the organization for nearly a year and a half, and started by making changes in their immediate community.

“We saw the need in our school, because a bunch of the products already in the bathroom were either uncomfortable or unused, or no one refilled them,” Houlehan said. “We now supply all the period products in the bathrooms here. We also have four lockers spread across the school filled with boxes of tampons and pads for students to take home.”

Additionally, they provide donations to various schools and organizations, such as women’s shelters and food distribution agencies, across the Kansas City area. They communicate with nurses and social workers to determine what is needed, and then they supply the organizations with the products. 

“We support about seven schools right now, just donating whatever they need,” Zschoche said. “We have a website, and we have a form where they can request products to their school or organization or anything.”

They collect donations through various types of fundraising of both money and products, and they utilize social media to spread awareness of their cause and gain support. 

“We have bake sales and Amazon wishlists that people donate to. A lot of great people in our community donate pretty regularly,” Houlehan said. “We also have gone out and purchased items ourselves. We buy in Missouri where there is a reduced sales tax, versus in Kansas there is a much higher sales tax.”

So far, they have donated over 12,000 products to individuals and places in need, as well as advocated for their cause in different settings and partnered with national organizations, such as PERIOD.org, which works to put an end to period poverty and the related issues through fundraising, advocacy and education.

“My favorite part is seeing the impact that we have on girls’ lives,” Houlehan said. “It’s really heartbreaking to see these girls who don’t have those resources and necessities, who skip school or are embarrassed to go to school. There’s so much stigma around periods that people feel ashamed to talk about it.”

Though challenging at times, their work has had immensely positive effects on the Kansas City community, and has not gone unnoticed. They have been featured in two local publications, the Kansas Reflector and the Kansas City Star, in their print newspapers. Kansas state Representative Stephanie Clayton shouted out their courage and hard work on her Twitter, as well.

“When people hear about us, they really like what we’re working for, so they just want to donate whatever they can,” Zschoche said. 

They also met with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly via Zoom after working with Kansas Appleseed, a state-wide social justice organization. 

Their end goal is to eliminate the tax on feminine hygiene products in the state of Kansas, and to help ease the many challenges that come with poverty.

“We’ve been able to build a community with this, not only with the schools we’ve supported, but with the people who’ve helped us,” Houlehan said. “We’ve definitely had challenges getting started, reaching out, but we’ve really persevered, and made it this far, and it’s really exciting.”