Period Poverty comes and goes from the mainstream media, but the problem still exists; millions of girls around the world lack access to sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education. And that’s not OK.
You may have heard Period Poverty discussed again recently thanks to British teenager Amika George and her Free Periods campaign, which strives to end period poverty in schools around the world. Thanks to their efforts, from 20th January 2020, every state-funded school and college in England can order free period products for their students.
It's a huge win for the issue in the UK, but there’s still a long way to go to ensure girls around the world get the same fair access to what they need. Globally, girls are missing out on school and valuable education for reasons that many of us take for granted daily.
Why is Period Poverty not talked about more?
At Yoppie, we’re incredibly open and honest about periods and all the fascinating and gross bits that come with them. But many countries around the world still hold stigma when it comes to feminine hygiene. It’s either not talked about, or discussed in the context of it being shameful or embarrassing, despite the fact that every woman in the world goes through it.
Whether due to religious beliefs or cultural ideation, many women around the world are forced to take harmful and undignified approaches to their menstrual health on a monthly basis. Not only is the stigma surrounding menstruation incredibly archaic, but in some cultures much of it is based on myths and superstitions - not science.
How does this affect girls?
For girls around the world, Period Poverty has a direct affect on their education. UNICEF estimates around 1 in 10 school girls in Africa avoid school during their period, and some end up leaving education altogether. Whether due to lack of products, or lack of adequate facilities in which to manage their period, it’s simply unacceptable.
Worryingly, many girls will resort to using dirty materials, overusing the sanitary products they have, or even inserting unsafe makeshift tampons. This, combined with the lack of access to bathroom facilities in some countries can contribute to dangerous, even life-threatening circumstances.
How does it affect girls in the UK?
You may think Period Poverty only exists in developing countries, but research from Plan International suggests that 1 in 10 girls aged 14-21 in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary products, and an astounding 49% have missed at least one day of school due to their period.
How can you contribute?
If you feel helpless while other women deal with the issues surrounding Period Poverty, know that there are ways you can get involved.
Donating to the Free Periods campaign can make a big difference to the work they are doing. The campaign continues to fight for free menstrual products in schools globally, working with in-country menstrual rights groups to coordinate the social movements needed to pressure governments into introducing free period products in schools.
To help their cause, find out more and donate here.
Donating period products to your local food bank is a great way to make sure girls in your own UK community always have access to what they need. There are many drop-off points within large supermarkets, allowing you to donate food and other assorted items. Next time you visit a drop-off point, consider contributing period products to the cause.
Even without donating money, you can help by talking about the issues and breaking stereotypes, both in person and on social media. One of the best ways to tackle Period Poverty is to discuss menstruation freely and stifle the stigma that remains, even in this country. Talking about the issues faced and everyday struggles (cramps, leaks, the lot!) with others can start necessary conversations.
Got questions about Period Poverty? Want to find out more ways you can help? Chat to us over on Instagram @itsyoppie and let’s tackle the issue together.