Period poverty is when a young woman or girl cannot afford to buy products such as tampons or pads, and it’s a global issue. A growing number of organizations and individuals are banding together to address a lack of access to sanitary products that significantly affect the quality of life of women.
In some cultures, the effects of period poverty and menstrual inequity are so extreme that women aren’t allowed to participate in society during menstruation, according to a report published by the Global Citizen organization. Around the world, period poverty forces millions of women to miss out on vital opportunities such as education, and in Kenya, women trade sexual favors for sanitary supplies.
Now, there’s a growing movement of individuals around the world who are speaking out as well as dedicating their time and money to help end these deplorable conditions.
The Appalling Disparities of Period Poverty
In the United States, retailers sell approximately $6 billion in sanitary products every year. Globally, however, 2.3 million people do not have access to essential sanitary products.
Today, one in ten United Kingdom girls cannot afford sanitary products. Resultantly, 12% of them miss classes during menstruation. Also, many the group must use wadded toilet paper in place of sanitary products – a practice that serves to reinforce the adverse effects of poverty.
The long-standing #FreePeriod campaign has made significant progress in ending period poverty in the U.K. After years of advocacy, the campaign has compelled U.K. officials to announce that they are moving to make sanitary products free in all England schools.
One group, GlobalCitizen.org, is on a mission to gain the support of 100 million Global Citizens. The group’s mission is to end extreme poverty by the year 2030.
The Global Citizen website provides information about the systemic nature of extreme poverty. It also provides supporters with information about how they can take action and receive rewards for working toward global change.
So far, millions of supporters have taken over 14 million actions to improve conditions that represent some of the world’s most challenging social issues.
Period Poverty in America
From schoolgirls without access to feminine care items to female prisoners who must beg guards for hygiene products, menstrual inequity is a severe problem in the United States.
35 states in America tax women’s sanitary products as nonessential goods. At the same time, men’s products, such as Rogaine and Viagra, remain tax-free.
Women’s advocates cite that it’s unimaginable to require children to bring toilet paper the school. In the same vein, it’s outrageous not to provide hygiene products for young menstruating women.
Several femtech partners have joined the battle against period poverty. As an example, Cora and L. – two U.S. manufacturers of organic feminine products – donate sanitary products to girls and women in need for each item that they sell. Such initiatives are helpful, but government legislation is necessary to end period poverty once and for all.
Taking a Stand Against Period Poverty
Advocates, enterprises and organizations are working together to raise global awareness about the problem. For instance, Always launched the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign in 2018. Actress and social advocate Sophia Bush joined forces with the campaign to help prevent young women from missing school in the United States.
In partnership with Feeding America, Always donated 20 million sanitary products to women in need in the United States. Supporters can join Always and Bush in their work by helping to promote #EndPeriodPovertyNow across social media. More enterprises, however, have joined the cause to end period poverty:
- Binti Period trains women about menstruation care and how to construct homemade sanitary products.
- Freedom4Girls provides safe, disposable sanitary products and access to reusable pads and cups.
- Days for Girls mobilizes global volunteers to destigmatize the topics of menstruation and period poverty.
- Lunapads sponsors the Pads for Girls campaign to promote hygiene education around the world.
It’s time to put an end to the horrific circumstances surrounding period poverty. You too can help to in this deplorable social ill. For instance, you can donate to charitable organizations that help to promote access to sanitary items for all.
There is no logical reason for individuals to view natural menstruation as an inappropriate or uncomfortable subject. Supporters that wish to end period poverty must help to normalize conversation about a topic that’s socially taboo.
You can also help promote positive conversation about the topic. You can show your support online by using the #periodpoverty and #periodpositivity hashtags to spark conversations, raise awareness and show your support for ending global menstrual inequity.
Photo is pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.