Period poverty impacts girls and women around the world. In fact, over half a billion experience period poverty each month. This leads to other human rights issues from education, to health complications to child marriage and domestic abuse.

The term period poverty refers to the inability to access products and resources needed to manage menstruation. This could look like a lack of access to hand washing, or toilets. Or not being able to afford tampons, pads, panty liners or menstrual cups. It usually includes a lack of knowledge around periods due to financial hardship.

“In a landmark decision, the Welsh government has stipulated that 50% of all period poverty funding must be spent on eco-friendly products.”

The impact

While this is largely a women’s issue, it is not exclusively one. Unfortunately, the only data that can be found centers around girls and women. Consequently, we will be speaking dominantly about girls and women and relying on data that examines them. However, it is important to acknowledge that this is an issue that also impacts some trans men.

Every month people miss time in school because they cannot afford hygiene products. As a result, their education suffers. Arguably, this can have a domino effect. Girls who don’t receive an education are statistically more likely to enter child marriage.

Child marriage is also more likely to result in malnutrition, domestic violence, early pregnancy and pregnancy related complications.

“Poor menstrual hygiene can cause physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections…. It also stops women from reaching their full potential when they miss out on opportunities crucial to their growth.”

“this is the WORST take. no regard for women in poverty, homeless women, women in countries with extreme period stigmas. i hate some yall!!”

Global perspectives

“In Nepal … menstruating women are seen as impure by their community and banished to huts during their cycles. While menstrual huts are technically illegal, families continue taking the risk because [of] myths and misconceptions …….a study in Uganda … found many girls skipped school while on their period to avoid teasing by classmates.”

“In Bangladesh, many families cannot afford menstrual products and use old clothing…
And in India, only 12% of menstruators have access to sanitary products, leaving the rest to use unsafe materials like rags and sawdust as an alternative….”

“Nearly 1 in 7 Canadian girls has either left school early or missed school entirely because she did not have access to period products.” In the UK period poverty is, “resulting in more than 12% of girls missing class while on their period.”

“rich privileged white women be like “no you can’t have free period products. reuse the same maxi pad for a week or bleed thru ur clothes.” and then spend 20 dollars on pads/tampons while other women literally have to decide between food or tampons.”

The Next Step

Ok so what can we do? Periods are not optional. Menstration products should be free for people who need them. This is part of health care. People are entitled to have their basic health care needs met.

Talking openly about periods also helps reduce the stigma. Educate the people in your life about periods, including young girls. People who have periods don’t deserve to feel shame about a natural bodily function.

I’d love to know…

How do you normalize periods?

“People in period poverty are in often circumstances where having a period is shameful. With no guidance or help on how to use sanitary products… yet we are removing ads with this info because they cause offence. The actual fuck. How is having a period this hard in 2020. H O W.”