Kayelin Tiggs Leads Push for Menstrual Equality for Incarcerated Women 

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Written by Brianna Connock, Marketing & Outreach Associate

For the thousands of women imprisoned in Ohio prisons who lack regular access to period hygiene products, every time they menstruate is an added layer of dehumanization. 

Kayelin Tiggs is the champion fighting against a system that weaponizes periods and lack of hygiene products as punishment for prisoners.

Tiggs was awarded the Jim Tojo Award for Leadership at the 2023 Upstander Awards in recognition of her work to achieve menstrual equality for incarcerated women in Ohio.  The Upstander Awards honored and celebrated individuals in the community doing inspiring work as upstanders. Read more about the Cohen Family Upstander Weekend.

Tiggs wrote and introduced Ohio’s first menstrual equity bill that requires all correctional facilities to provide access to menstrual products, which is currently moving through the legislative process in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Because of her efforts, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections implemented a policy that provides menstrual hygiene products across all state prisons. Tiggs has also empowered women who are incarcerated to advocate on their own behalf, helping them to organize their efforts.

“These women are asserting their humanity and fighting for their dignity on a continuous basis,” Tiggs said. “After listening to their stories, I learned that if there’s inequality then something needs to be done, and it can be done by me.”

Tiggs understands the need to bridge the gap between thought and action.

“Every day we have the power to change lives if we work together,” Tiggs said. “Being an upstander means that you don’t wait to make a difference, but you use your talents to make a difference. My talent is pulling the voice out of the mind.”

Despite the success she’s had at achieving her mission thus far, Tiggs remains humble. She says she doesn’t need a fancy title or recognition to be able to make a difference – she simply cares and that’s enough.

“I love history and have watched how ‘ordinary citizens’ changed this nation and continue to change the world,” said Tiggs. “You don’t need to be any particular age or background to make a difference. There is no right place or right time.”

Tiggs encourages people to keep fighting for their cause, despite the challenges. “Not everyone will believe in what you’re doing. Not everyone will see, and sometimes that hurts,” she said. “So if you’re going to do something, stick to it because it’s the right thing – not because people believe in it. Be fueled by doubt, not discouraged.”

Read the full press release about the 2023 Upstander Awards here.

The Cohen Family Cincinnati Upstander Weekend is presented by Duke Energy, Fifth Third Private Bank, the Mayerson Family Foundation, WCPO, and Procter & Gamble. 

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The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center exists to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Located at Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal, HHC impacts more than 2.5 million people every year through digital and in-person events, museum tours, educational experiences, social media, and virtual content. From Australia to India, individuals from more than 25 countries and 30 states engage with our mission. For more information, visit www.holocaustandhumanity.org