Period Poverty is a worldwide issue. Many people are suffering due to this. It is important to get educated and informed on this public health crisis. When we are educated on this matter, we can try our best to end it and help the people who are misinformed. In this article, I am providing some information and facts on Period Poverty.
What is Period Poverty?
According to the American Medical Women’s Association– “Period poverty refers to the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and educations, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management.”
Every day there are many girls who miss school due to a lack of menstrual supplies. Many families are not in an economic situation where they can afford to buy sanitary products. Unfortunately, for a vast population, using sanitary products is a luxury, while it should be a basic necessity. All the people have rights to receive sanitary products since it is directly related to their health and well being.
Period Poverty does not revolve around period products only. It is extended to other facilities such as easy access and availability of restrooms, washing facilities, and easy disposal or proper waste management. Period Poverty also includes the stigma around menstruation, which brings shame to the women who are going through a natural cycle, which plays a major role in reproductive health.
Who is suffering from Period Poverty?
Girls and women all over the world who have minimum or no access to proper sanitary products, basic facilities to use and dispose of them are suffering. Also, females who are suffering due to the stigma surrounding the menstrual cycle are the victims. Anyone for whom buying period products becomes a luxury and not a basic right is suffering.
The ones who suffer the most are low-income families. They suffer both financially and mentally. There are people who don’t have hardships buying sanitary products, but they suffer mentally. This is because their society has been built in such a way that periods become a matter which cannot be discussed in public and should be kept very private. Women cannot lead a normal life during those few days every month.
What are the impacts of Period Poverty?
Period Poverty has several impacts on women mentally, physically, and psychologically. Many women don’t have access to sanitary products, or they cannot afford to buy proper sanitary products. This can lead to many health issues, like infections and also reproductive issues in a long run.
Stigmas Surrounding Menstruation
There are many stigmas surrounding menstruation. Some countries have extreme traditions that they follow when a woman gets her periods. For example, in Nepal, women are considered untouchable during their periods. Women will be restricted from sitting in the same room where other people are sitting, or going to the kitchen and touching food is a big no-no. The situation is even worst in rural Nepal, where women are sent far away from home when they get their periods. They are forced to live in huts that don’t even fulfill basic requirements like proper ventilation, etc. Many women die every year due to this reason. This will have a deep mental and psychological issue for a lifetime.
Deprived of Education
Every month girls around the globe miss one or two days of school during their periods. Women also tend to miss some days of work during their periods. This negatively impacts them, as they will be deprived of leading a normal life during those days. Education opens up a door of opportunities, and no one should be deprived of education due to the lack of access to sanitary products. Once the attendance increases, there will be more female involvement in school activities like sports, extracurricular activities, etc. This will also lessen the burden of families who are struggling financially. And, also help in gender equality and reducing stigma around menstruation.
Some nations that have set an example towards ending Period Poverty
Even though all the nations might be working towards ending Period Poverty, some nations have done a tremendous job in seriously eliminating this public health crisis. I want to mention two countries that have set an example:
Scotland and New Zealand
Scotland became the first nation in the world to make sanitary products free for the people who need them, in the quest to end period poverty. Now New Zealand has also taken a similar initiative. New Zealand is making period products free in schools, all over the nation.
Scotland and New Zealand’s initiative towards ending Period Poverty should be an inspiration for other nations.
Kudos to these two nations for their initiative towards ending their nation’s Period Poverty !!
Let’s do our part in ending Period Poverty
First, let’s get educated on what period Poverty is, how it is impacting our society, what are the taboos related to menstruation, etc. Then, let’s educate the people around us. Let’s make everyone aware of this issue. We need to dismantle the menstruation taboos. Also, we need to support women who are in need of help.
If you are in support of ending Period Poverty or want to get more information on Period Poverty, go over the Pamphlet provided by AMWA. You can also write a letter to Congress and sign a petition to end Period Poverty by scanning the QR Code provided.