In many developing countries period poverty is a huge problem.
- menstruation is surrounded by cultural shame and stigma. Menstruation is seen as unclean and viewed with suspicion. Some women are shunned when they are menstruating
- there is no access to running water, menstrual products, disposal facilities, or education about menstruation
- many girls are unable to go to school when they have their periods. Missing a week’s school out of every month means that the drop-out rate is high
- poor menstrual hygiene can lead to physical health problems which could affect fertility and health
- patriarchal societies mean that women’s needs are not a priority and that their voices are not heart.
Even developed countries have problems with period poverty, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic where many people are struggling. According to the BBC: National charity Bloody Good Period said it usually distributed 5,000 packs a month but had handed more than 23,000 in the three months since lockdown began in England on 23 March last year.
Happily though there is work being done against period poverty around the world.
- in my small South African town there are collection bins at checkout so you can buy sanitary products and drop them in for a local charity to distribute to schools.
- many schools have sanitary towel cupboards where girls can fetch anything they need without having to ask. There is one school where boys volunteer to pack and see that the cupboard is stocked. This goes a long way to boys being more accepting of menstruation
- there are also international projects to help girls in developing countries in accessing menstrual products
- menstrual cups are proving to be groundbreaking in helping fight period poverty. It is a one-time cost and, with proper hygiene and access to washing facilities, can be environmentally and economically friendly.
- Action Aid is a great programme tackling period poverty from all sides