Summary: Period Poverty Awareness Week is a global campaign that aims to eliminate the stigma and challenges associated with menstruation. The campaign primarily focuses on raising awareness about period poverty affecting millions of girls and women worldwide. This article will explore the main aspects of this significant movement.
1. The significance of period poverty
Period poverty is a severe issue that threatens the health, well-being, and productivity of women and girls worldwide. It refers to the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, and other related resources. According to a survey by Plan International UK, one in ten girls in the UK cannot afford to buy menstrual products. Similarly, many other countries suffer from lack of access to menstrual products or are unable to keep up with the often-expensive costs of products monthly.
Girls and women who can’t access menstrual products lack adequate blood-absorbing materials, thereby unprotected during menstruation. Not having proper menstrual protection increases their risk of infection, endangers their physical and mental health, leading to absenteeism from school or work, and becomes a barrier to progress.
Furthermore, period poverty directly affects girls’ education since they miss out on school when menstruating. They end up falling behind their male peers, leading to under-achievement and less likely to attend school or have a proper education, which consequently limits their future possibilities in life.
2. How the campaign came into existence
Period Poverty Awareness Week was founded in 2018 to start conversations and increase awareness surrounding period poverty and the impact menstrual issues have on people’s everyday lives. The campaign has become increasingly essential in raising awareness about this issue and breaking down the stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation.
The initiative has grown rapidly, gaining support and coverage across the globe, resulting in policy changes to improve access to menstrual products, hygiene education, and facilities, providing relief for millions.
This week of awareness aims to promote adequate menstrual management by raising funds for the production and distribution of sanitary products, public health campaigns, sensitization programs, and advocacy efforts.
3. The impact of period poverty on marginalized communities
Marginalized communities and vulnerable groups are the most affected by menstruation-related issues. Women living in poverty, refugees, persons with disabilities, and those living in rural areas experience increased barriers to accessing basic menstrual health care due to financial insecurity, lack of accessibility, and limited resources or knowledge in healthcare systems.
Due to inadequate sanitation facilities, girls from these communities develop insecurities over their menstrual cycles’ effects on their bodies, as they cannot easily manage menstruation with dignity and privacy. This results in missed school days, decreased productivity, and shame over their bodies.
The affected groups also suffer from stereotypes and taboos surrounding periods, such as shameful behavior during menstruation, gender inequalities, and harmful traditional practices that can lead to poor physical and mental health consequences.
4. Promoting sustainable menstruation practices
A sustainable menstruation practice involves the use of eco-friendly and cost-effective menstrual products and hygiene education to prevent negative impacts on the environment and individuals’ health. Sustainable menstrual products include washable pads, menstrual cups, reusable cloth menstrual pads, and organic cotton tampons.
By promoting sustainable menstrual practices, this campaign has promoted the importance of reducing waste, using environmentally-friendly products, and responsible menstrual products disposal.
In addition to protecting the environment and promoting good menstrual health, these products’ use encourages education and decision-making skills that contribute to a better understanding of periods’ biological processes, female reproductive health rights, and hygiene.
5. The role of governments and policy-makers
The campaign calls on governments and authoritative bodies worldwide to take action and invest in making menstrual products available and affordable to every girl and woman who needs them, providing education on menstrual health, and including menstrual support in social welfare policies.
Policy changes are starting to gain traction globally. For instance, in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, India and Kenya, the governments have abolished taxes on menstrual products, promoting easier access, particularly for low-income families. A lot more still needs to be done across the globe, including at government level, to empower girls and women by providing them with the essential tools, resources, and support required to manage their menstruation hygienically and without stigma.
Conclusion:Nobody should have to suffer from period poverty. It’s everyone’s responsibility to eliminate this issue and ensure equitable distribution of menstrual products worldwide. By raising our voices collectively, we can make a change and make progress toward proper menstrual health. Period Poverty Awareness Week provides an opportunity for organizations, individuals, and policy-makers to come together and fight for menstrual equity for all.