What is period poverty and how does it impact women and girls?
Photo by Vanessa Ramirez
Since people cannot control whether or not they have a period, it would make sense that period products were considered a necessity that was easily accessible. However, some women and girls experience period poverty, making their time of the month much more unbearable than it already is.
As the concept of period poverty has been raised, so too have efforts to eradicate period poverty and ensure that anyone with a period has access to the menstrual products they need. There isn’t a simple solution, but anyone can make a small difference in how their community is able to slowly eliminate period poverty.
Period poverty defined
Period poverty is both a human rights violation and a widespread crisis that has degrees of impact within every country. The rising costs of period products are just one facet of period poverty, where people are made to choose between menstrual products and other necessities. Some people have also had to go to dangerous lengths to get access to these products for themselves or their loved ones.
The risk that they put themselves in due to having to spend much-needed resources on menstrual products is great. Furthermore, those experiencing period poverty must forgo important aspects of life because they cannot leave home without pads or tampons. Furthermore, for those who lack access to efficient hygiene protocols, staying clean becomes a challenge.
The pandemic has caused further strain on the availability and affordability of pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and other hygiene products for menstruation. When affordability is jeopardized, fewer people are able to donate, more demand is increased, and then greedy corporations continue to raise prices while quality goes down.
How period poverty impacts women and girls?
If someone has their period and doesn’t have the proper items needed to manage it, they can feel stuck. For instance, one in 14 girls has had to miss school because they didn’t have the funds to access menstrual products. Due to circumstances beyond their control, these women and girls have to miss out on school, work, and other important days.
People with periods living in period poverty often have a lack of information about the reproductive cycle, what is normal and abnormal to experience during menstruation, and how to take care of their reproductive health. This can lead to dangerous and avoidable behaviors in relation to how they take care of themselves and their relationship with their bodies and sex.
Who is impacted by period poverty?
There are areas in every country experiencing their own level of period poverty in some capacity. There are countries that experience widespread poverty that also experiences period of poverty to higher degrees. People of color, Indigenous peoples, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are disproportionately impacted by period poverty.
Simple solutions to start reducing period poverty
Until there is systemic change in regards to the cost of menstrual products, setting up reservoirs of products that people can access for free in places such as schools, workplaces, and community centers is a start.
Some areas even have period pantries set up so people can grab what they need out of items that have been donated by community members. People can also continue to spread awareness and lobby politicians to do their part in making period poverty a thing of the past.
Period poverty is an unfortunate reality of the world, regardless of where you live. Part of the trouble with eliminating this particular type of poverty is the lack of awareness about just how bad of a problem it is.
Until other countries take Scotland’s approach and make menstrual products free, each one of us can do a small part to make period poverty less of a burden on people with periods.