What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty is when someone does not have access to sanitary products or has a lack of education on menstruation, which is often caused by financial constraints. It is not just limited to sanitary products, but also washing facilities and waste management.
- In India, nearly 70% of reproductive diseases is caused by lack of menstrual hygiene. In fact, 71% of girls are unaware of menstrual health till their first cycle.
- Globally, 2.3 billion people live without basic sanitation services and in developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate handwashing facilities at home, according to UNICEF.
- Worldwide, it is estimated that 1/10 young women have been unable to afford sanitary products for their period.
Around the world, 12% of women have been forced to use other devices instead of sanitary products which can be ineffective, unhygienic, and unsafe
How does period poverty hold people back?
Not only does period poverty affect the livelihood of individuals all across the world, but it also impacts education. Research by Plan International UK found that 49 percent of girls had missed a whole day of school due to their period, whilst 59 percent of the same girls said that they had made up an excuse to miss school because of their period. 68 percent said that they found it harder to concentrate in class whilst menstruating.
Why the stigma behind periods is harmful?
The stigma surrounding periods has a negative impact on people, as many individuals feel uncomfortable discussing periods. It was found that in a survey of 1,000 people, nearly half were embarrassed by their period. The stigma can also lead to a severe lack of education surrounding periods themselves; in India, 70 percent of women don’t know what sanitary towels are or how to use them.
Period Poverty during COVID-19:
With more and more countries introducing national lockdowns, period poverty is becoming an issue for more people. Due to financial strains, reduced access to products, and increases in prices, more people are suffering. School closures can also lead to young people not having access to sanitary products that they may have had access to at school. Although period poverty has been an issue globally for a long time, now people need more support in accessing a necessity.
How you can help:
Breaking the Stigma
Say it: Period. Using euphemisms for a natural occurrence in many people’s lives reinforces the stigma behind periods. In normalizing discussions about periods, we can help to eliminate the stigma, leading to individuals being more open to education surrounding periods. After all, menstruation is normal. Period.
“That Time of the Month”
- Period products are still taxed in some areas. In America, 30 states don’t consider tampons and pads a necessity.
- Check out the Tampon Tax Protest Website, which is challenging the 30 states that tax sanitary products.
- Watch Period. End of Sentence on Netflix to educate yourself about the stigma of menstruation in India.
Some products donate a percentage of profits to charities that fight against period poverty, so whilst shopping for sanitary products, keep an eye out for these brands. It’s a perfect way to donate whilst getting what you need too. The brand Always has donated sanitary products, and Pink Parcel donates unused products.
Here is a list of charities dedicated to combating period poverty:
- Myna Health (from Myna Mahila Foundation) provides menstrual health products and services.
- GiveHer5 is a social initiative that is bringing safe sanitary solutions to young women in rural areas of India.
- The Homeless Period provides free sanitary products to homeless people.
- The Red Box Project provides sanitary products to schools.
- Action Aid helps educate women about periods and provides hygiene kits.
- Bloody Good Period provides sanitary products for those who cannot afford them.
Afterall, awareness is the key to safe and healthy living. Also, there are plenty of documentaries made, awareness campaign organized and NGOs running in order to ensure safe and healthy living of women. Even after these there are lot of females who undergo difficult situation of being apart from safe menstrual cycle, for which it’s the duty of literate peoples to help and donate in every possible way. It’s the responsibility of every citizen to make their daughters understand the importance of hygiene and make them knowledgeable about the mensuration cycle.