Today I thought I’d write a post about period poverty, as this is a really important topic.
Period poverty affects women all across the world, and it is a lot closer to home than you may think. In the UK, 1 in 10 girls aged 14-21 cannot afford to regularly buy menstrual products. And in the US, 1 in 5 teenagers have struggled to buy menstrual products, with 25% of young women missing school due to this issue.
But while this topic may be important to modern society, worryingly little is known about it. This post discusses what period poverty really is, and how it affects women across the globe.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products for women and girls across the world.
Some women have little access to menstrual products due to stigmas, or a lack of understanding of what happens to women’s bodies during this time. And some people simply cannot afford to buy the menstrual products they need, such as tampons or sanitary towels. But the common factor is that period poverty stops women from effectively managing their time of the month, an issue no one should have to face.
Periods are stressful, painful, and annoying for everyone involved. There’s no getting past the inconvenience or pain. But no one should have the added stress of not being able to effectively manage their period simply because they can’t afford the appropriate sanitary products.
Despite recent changes, in many countries menstrual products are still considered a “luxury”, with a worldwide lack of recognition for the importance of these products. But menstrual products are so important- they allow women to carry on with their lives. And so this issue is so important to understand.
What are the effects of period poverty?
Period poverty has a huge effect on daily life. It affects physical and mental health. A lack of access to sanitary products means women experience issues surrounding hygiene and safety throughout their period. And the effect on women’s mental health can be even more damaging.
Those who can’t afford to buy sanitary towels or tampons often feel as if they can’t go outside. Without menstrual products, there’s no way to control bleeding, and women feel embarrassed resuming their daily life. As well as causing a feeling of self-consciousness, there is also a more important issue at stake. Period poverty leads to many women and girls missing out on school or work every single month, simply due to the lack of available essential products.
Period poverty can affect all ages. While young people have been the priority of charitable campaigns- attempting to maintain a high level of school attendance for students on their period- those of all ages can be affected by this. Some mothers have to make the choice between food for their child, or effective sanitary products.
How can you help?
This is an important issue, and it is clear that period poverty affects women in all countries across the world. Whether it’s a lack of access to essential products, or insufficient funds to pay for tampons every month, period poverty affects different women in different ways- but it is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Certain charities, such as Oxfam, do a lot of work for girls in developing countries, aiming to help young girls get access to school even during this difficult time of the month, and removing the stigma surrounding periods.
Many food banks (such as the Trussell Trust) arrange for food parcels to be sent to families in need in the UK. As well as food, these families are often given sanitary products. These food banks are always looking for more donations, and it’s important to remember that both food and sanitary products are essential items for many families in need.
There’s also a lot of independent groups lobbying for change. These groups lobby for free tampons and sanitary towels to be accessible in public bathrooms, particularly those in schools and universities- where period poverty can be at its worst. Joining or donating to these groups can help access to free products.
Even if it’s just a donation of an extra packet of sanitary towels, this can make a massive difference to someone who would have otherwise not been able to attend school for one week every single month.
Do you know much about period poverty? Do you think this is an important topic to discuss? Can you think of any other ways to help the problem?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy reading x