Imagine not having the resources to afford menstrual products? This is true in many parts of the world. Period poverty is a global sanitation issue affecting the world all around us.
Periods are just inconvenient right? Just some PMS, bloating and cramps... But for millions of other girls and women in the United State this is Not True. The situation is much severe!
Period poverty is a big problem. It's not having access to sanitary products. It's the lack of menstrual hygiene education. The need for toilets and hand washing facilities. It is not having the correct information and lacking knowledge, often due to financial limitations.
Many schools in low-income countries lack adequate sanitation. They do not provide the appropriate hygiene products for girls and female teachers to manage their period. This can affect a girls experience at school, causing them to miss school during their period.
In a study completed in low-income communities. 2/3 of the women surveyed did not have the resources to buy menstrual hygiene products at some point during the last year. 1/5 of respondents struggled to afford period products monthly. During their cycle, some were not able to leave their homes, go to work, or take part in daily life activities.
Homeless women, and girls, and those who are currently imprisoned, struggle with period poverty everyday!
Currently over 30 states impose a sales tax called “tampon tax” as these are considered non-essentials or luxury goods. Feminine hygiene products serve a basic, essential menstrual need. It should be classified as a tax exempt necessity. Along with other unavoidable items, such as groceries and personal medical items.
Although more women than men live in poverty in the United States, period products cannot be purchased with food stamps, Medicaid, or health insurance.
Another part of period poverty is the taboo surrounding menstruation. This can be especially damaging to girls going through puberty. The lack of information leads to misconceptions and discrimination. This can cause girls to miss out on normal experiences and activities.
Without the proper education young girls are more likely to enter into young marriages. Experience early pregnancies with complications as a result.
Another big concern is poor menstrual hygiene. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to many issues. Such as fungal or bacterial infections of the reproductive and the urinary tract. During this time, a woman’s vulnerability towards potentially life-threatening illnesses increases.
Menstrual hygiene is crucial to the equality and well-being of women worldwide. It's much more than access to sanitary pads. It is about guaranteeing women live in an environment that values and supports their menstruation with dignity.
Now that we are aware of the issue let’s start spreading the word and do something about it. We have to do more to educate the world. We are all in this together, let’s fix the problem.
There are so many things we can do. Donate period products to a local facility. You can donate reusable period panties, cups or reusable pads. Drop off a few boxes of tampons to a homeless shelter, get involved in your daughter’s school, church or after school activities.
There are several organizations around the world that have come together to raise awareness of Period Poverty. You can get involved in local initiatives through organizations and companies such as these. This can include calling policy makers or promoting education and awareness. Write to your members of Congress about federal legislation to ensure menstrual access. Write to your state representatives. Go to the local town council and school board.
Inadequate menstrual hygiene is not a unique problem for women just in the US. It affects populations in the developed and developing world!