What is Period Poverty?
More than half of all people are women; problems with your period can no longer be ignored. That poverty becomes everyone’s business is long overdue. Period poverty is characterized by a lack of access to menstrual products, facilities for hygiene, waste management, and the necessary education regarding issues pertaining to reproductive health. Menstruating women’s mental and physical health suffers as a result of poverty. This makes it a double-edged sword and makes it urgent to address period poverty. Periods are shrouded in stigma, which prevents people from discussing them. The problem is made even worse by challenges like a lack of data and research. It is impossible for everyone to have access to menstrual products, education, and proper sanitation due to cultural, social, political, and economic barriers.
Period Poverty Statistics Worldwide
Period poverty is a significant problem that affects many individuals, particularly those from low-income households. It refers to the inability to access menstrual products or necessary healthcare related to menstruation. Here are some statistics and facts about period poverty:
- According to UNESCO, one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle, which is equivalent to missing up to 20% of their school year.
- In the UK, research conducted by Plan International UK found that one in ten girls aged 14-21 have been unable to afford menstrual products.
- In the United States, a survey conducted by Always found that one in five girls has missed school due to a lack of menstrual products.
- According to a study by the Free Periods movement, 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty.
- In India, it is estimated that only 12% of women have access to menstrual hygiene products.
How is it a problem?
Many women without access to menstrual products improvise with old blankets, chicken feathers, old rags, newspapers, mud, and even cow dung. Odors and leakages become a challenge, and for schoolgirls, these negative experiences of menstruating can lead to discomfort, distraction, absenteeism, and even dropping out of school. School drop-outs have difficulty entering the job market, and if they do, they find themselves in low-paying jobs without security, predisposing them to economic and social poverty. In line with sustainability is the issue of environmentally friendly products. Our world has a plastic problem that does not decompose and ends up polluting the oceans. Our water bodies are drowning, and climate change is inevitable. There is a need for reusable, environmental-friendly menstrual products that are also budget-friendly.
Groups of people most affected by period poverty
Period poverty affects people of all ages and genders, but certain groups are more vulnerable to it, including:
- Girls and young women: Girls and young women are particularly at risk of period poverty, as they may not have the resources or support they need to manage their periods.
- Low-income households: Individuals from low-income households may struggle to afford menstrual products, particularly if they are living in poverty.
- Homeless individuals: Homeless individuals often lack access to basic necessities, including menstrual products, which can have a significant impact on their health and well-being.
- Refugees and asylum seekers: Refugees and asylum seekers may face difficulties accessing menstrual products due to displacement, language barriers, or a lack of resources.
Causes of Period Poverty
- The absence of access to hygiene products as a result of a variety of different factors is one of the major issues that has contributed to the current problem.
- Around the world, people in underprivileged areas can barely afford three meals per day. They simply cannot afford to purchase the sanitary products that are typically available for purchase on the market.
- In some cultures around the world, purchasing menstrual products is still fraught with anxiety and embarrassment.
- In the world’s most remote regions, where women must live in separate rooms or cabins designed to accommodate them while they bleed, culturally related alienation is still very common.
- In some places, the weather is so bad that women can’t follow a certain hygiene routine while they’re menstruating.
- One of the most significant, if not the most significant, contributors to the period of poverty is loneliness, which is the result of two or more of the other forms of inaccessibility, affordability, and embarrassment.
- Shame also keeps people from talking about menstrual issues, like not having access to pads, taxing these products, or even the harmful ingredients used, like dioxin.
- Since not all women and many people who are not women menstruate, choosing the appropriate language becomes an additional challenge.
Government policies and initiatives to address period poverty
Governments can play a crucial role in addressing period poverty by implementing policies and initiatives that increase access to menstrual products and healthcare. One effective policy is providing free or low-cost menstrual products in schools, hospitals, and other public facilities. This ensures that individuals who may not have the financial resources to purchase these products are still able to access them. Another policy that can address period poverty is eliminating taxes on menstrual products to make them more affordable. Governments can also offer subsidies or vouchers for menstrual products for low-income individuals to ensure that they have access to these essential items. Additionally, governments can incorporate menstrual health education into school curricula to help break down the stigma surrounding menstruation and ensure that young people are equipped with the knowledge they need to manage their periods.
Community-led initiatives to address period poverty
Communities can also play an important role in addressing period poverty through initiatives that increase access to menstrual products and promote menstrual health education. One community-led initiative is establishing menstrual product banks that provide free or low-cost products to those in need. These banks can be run by volunteers and located in community centers, schools, or other public facilities. Community members can also conduct outreach and education programs to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, including the importance of using safe and hygienic menstrual products. Encouraging local businesses and organizations to support menstrual health initiatives and donate products or funds is another effective way to address period poverty.
Corporate social responsibility and period poverty
Businesses can also contribute to addressing period poverty through corporate social responsibility initiatives. One way is by donating menstrual products to organizations that serve low-income communities. Companies can also provide employees with menstrual products in workplace restrooms, which can help ensure that individuals are able to manage their periods with dignity while at work. Supporting initiatives that promote menstrual health and hygiene education is another effective way to address period poverty through corporate social responsibility. By partnering with local organizations and governments to address period poverty in the communities they serve, businesses can help ensure that everyone has access to the menstrual products and healthcare they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
What can we do about it?
Addressing period poverty is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach involving government policies, community-led initiatives, and corporate social responsibility. In this article, we will discuss the different ways in which these stakeholders can contribute to addressing period poverty.
- Begin and backing drives that elevate admittance to feminine cycle items and mindfulness about the periods, conceptive medical problems, and cleanliness rehearses.
- Providing facilities that ensure menstruating women have access to services like water, sanitation, and waste management while they are menstruating.
- Accord ladies the valuable chance to get a finding for feminine cycle problems and access medical services.
- Menstruating women should be able to participate in all aspects of life, including sports, school, and work, in a positive and supportive environment.
- In order to normalize menstruation, invite people who are working to alleviate period poverty to give talks.
- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for profane remarks about menstruation.
In conclusion, addressing period poverty requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including governments, communities, and businesses. By implementing policies and initiatives that increase access to menstrual products and healthcare, promoting menstrual health education, and donating products or funds, we can work together to ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need to manage their periods with dignity and ease. We at the ZamZam Foundation have taken it upon ourselves not to rest until we educate every woman who lacks the access to hygiene products. We are running awareness programs on a monthly basis where we distribute the products for free and educate women about their reproductive health. Moreover, we have an on-going campaign where you can donate and fund a woman for lifetime supplies of menstrual pads. For more information on our causes and campaigns.