Let’s Talk About Period Poverty!

Those of you who know me and are reading this will know that I am very passionate about Period Poverty. This is a global issue, and one that I don’t think is represented in mainstream media enough – perhaps because of the subject matter still being considered as taboo by many people? I want to be able to help start the conversation and break down the stigma surrounding “that time of the month”. I also think that it is important that we ALL have these conversations. From experience, having a period is pretty tough. Not having the resources to have a comfortable, clean and safe period is unimaginable. I wanted to share some of my own research online and the accounts I’ve been following on social media.

N.B. The links attached throughout this post are where I have learnt a lot of this information. Some of the links also provide evidence for statistics. Overall, they are great to click on if you fancied learning a little bit more!

Phoebe Nisbet Let's Talk About Period Poverty!

First Things First – What is Period Poverty?

I wanted to start with a little definition so that from the off-set, we know what Period Poverty actually entails. So, Period Poverty refers to not having access to sanitary products due to financial difficulties, but also sometimes refers to not having knowledge on menstruation for any number of reasons. For a lot of women and girls globally, there is also the added factor of being unable to manage their periods with dignity. I know that when “that time of the month” comes around, I take for granted being able to just grab my sanitary products and being able to get on with the day, for an alarming amount of women, this is a luxury.

One of the best websites to learn more about what Period Poverty entails is ActionAid. They have interesting statistics, explain everything clearly and lay out the work that are doing with transparency. ActionAid is probably one of my favourite charities, their slogan is “changing the world with women and girls” and their work is INCREDIBLE. They work in lots of countries across South America, Africa and Asia – as well as responding to emergency situations. If you fancied getting involved with this charity, you can sponsor a child or take part in fundraising and donating.

Period Poverty Around the Globe

Our sisters across the world have different struggles during their periods due to a range of reasons; from cultural to economic. Here are a couple that perhaps you haven’t thought about before:

  1. Missing Out on Education – Poverty & stigma that surrounds “that time of the month” has a seriously negative affect on girls across the globe and can place them in incredibly vulnerable situations (such as child marriage). In some parts of Africa in particular, school girls do not have access to toilets or sanitary products.
  2. Taboo & Being Banished from Home – Periods have been stigmatised. We can feel embarrased about talking about them openly. In Nepal for example, this taboo has been taken to the extreme. Women are banished from their own homes – in a practice called Chhaupadi) as they are seen as being “unclean”. This is an incredibly dangerous practice as women and girls are left without any real provisions or sanitary products. Taboo is exactly why it is so important to educate men on menstruation too.
  3. Periods during Humanitarian Disasters, Conflict and Pandemics: These disasters are already incredibly stressful situations to be in, but they are even worse for women who are menstruating and have a lack of access to sanitary products. It can cause women to feel even more isolated, and can cause infection due to unhygenic alternatives for sanitary products.

So, What Does the Situation Look Like at Home in the UK?

Even though we live in a First World Country, the issue of Period Poverty is prevalent in our society. 1 in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford sanitary products . Whilst 1/4 of females are forced to miss work or school . I was reading in the last week the current pandemic has caused Period Poverty is on the rise again in the UK. This is due to a number of reasons, but one reason which stuck out to me is that there is actually a shortage of sanitary products.

Small Victories, Big Impacts

At the beginning of this year, there was a small victory for girls in that the government introduced free sanitary products to be accessible to the school girls. This was such great news to hear as girls in primary and secondary schools no longer have to miss out on their education. Periods are a natural process and it is a disgrace that women have had to miss out on their opportunity’s to learn because of them.

I have always been very vocal about the Tampon Tax. Those of you who don’t know what the tampon tax is, it’s a 5% VAT on all sanitary products. We have literally been taxed to menstruate. Sanitary products should never have been classed as a “non essential, luxury item’. Let me tell you, it is not a luxury to have a period every month. Women’s Rights Activists have been campaigning for the abolition of Tampon Tax for 20 years.

Who to Follow & How to Get Involved:

There are so many fantastic Instagram accounts, websites and blogs to follow if this is a subject that interests you too. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Action Aid – I have mentioned this charity a lot in this post. It is the best for educating you on pretty much everything you need to know about Period Poverty. There is also great ways on how to get involved and support our sisters across the globe.
  • Bloody Big Brunch – Everything about this idea is fantastic. Basically you host a brunch/ attend one and pay for your Bloody Mary’s by donating sanitary products – I know… how ideal?!? Bloody Big Brunch also has a great blog where they talk all things woman.
  • Blood + Milk – This is a revolutionary website. It deals with every aspect of what it means to be a woman and the concept of femininity, whilst advocating women health. Blood + Milk is one of my favourite websites because it is SO educational.
  • Hey Girls! – Set up by a mother and her daughters, Hey Girls has a fantastic range of environmentally sanitary products, that also benefit other women in need. They also have a fantastic educational section, including Hey Boys! which answers those burning questions men might have.
  • Red Box Project – This non-profit supports young people in schools on their periods by donating Red Boxes filled with sanitary products. The Red Box Project is so important because it means that girls don’t have to miss out on their education – and it’s so easy to get involved too!
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