The term “Period Poverty” stands for the inability of girls and women to access sanitary products needed for managing their monthly menstruation cycle healthfully and with dignity.
Contrary to popular belief, period poverty is not exclusively an issue in developing countries. In fact, many well-organized societies throughout the globe still suffer the consequences of high pricing, “the period tax,” and interrupted access to hygiene products.
This can result in worsened public health, disrupted education process, and general lowering in the quality of life for women who can’t access or can’t afford sanitary goods during their period.
So, what can you do about this, starting from yourself? Here is our brief list of five steps you can actively involve in, starting today.
1. Educate Yourself About Period Poverty
Surprisingly enough, period poverty seldom makes it to the front pages or the mass media production. Though pressing and ever-growing, the issue is being widely neglected by most decision-makers and influential players. The good news? You can still make yourself aware of it if you do it purposefully.
You can start by exploring programs and initiatives such as the Urban Sanitation Project, the ActionAid period poverty program, or UNICEF’s Guidance on Menstrual Health and Hygiene report, for example. The deeper you dig, the more you will find out about global and local communities that seek to improve the situation for girls and women. You can educate yourself, enrol yourself, and develop your own “To Do” list regarding the subject.
The more you know about period poverty, the more efficient you can be in preventing it – whether you do it on your own, or as a part of your community.
2. Rise Awareness And End The Stigma Around Natural Processes Such As Period
Having a certain amount of information and knowledge is an excellent place to start. Still, it is definitely not enough to make a difference. That being said, education is a two-way street – first, you receive it, and then you start spreading it.
Many societies, cultures, and individuals still experience unreasonable prejudice when women’s period is concerned. Both men and women still don’t discuss the process openly and avoid getting involved when the subject is brought up.
Broadening the horizons of your private or expanded community is something you can do systematically, day by day and step by step. First of all – start talking about it. Then – start making conversations about it. And finally – start asking questions about it. Help the ones around you form an opinion and recognize the pressing issues of women who are still suffering a great deal, just to deal with their natural body processes.
Because period is what it is: a natural and unavoidable part of life for about half of the Earth’s population, for about half of their lives.
3. Support Charities
There are multiple real-life steps you can take to make a tangible impact beyond self-education. The most widely accessible among them include financial donations, fundraising, volunteering, or even becoming an employee in an organization that manages period poverty action plans.
Both monthly and one-off donations are available throughout tens of reliable organizations, including The Bloody Good Period, FreePeriods, and Brook. With them, you will also find options for directly donating pads and tampons, as well as buying awareness merchandise to help spread the news everywhere you go.
Supporting period poverty charity is more important now than ever before since the Covid-19 crisis is making a massive impact on the financial stability of women and their families. Because periods don’t stop during a pandemic, do they?
4. Donate Period Products
Donating sanitary products for charities is yet another perfectly simple solution to the otherwise complicated matter of period poverty. Both non-profit organizations and food banks actively accept donations, while many institutions care to broadcast information on how to donate. Among them is the Royal College of Nursing that recommends a list of simple steps regarding group donations:
- Reach out to a chosen local food bank or a foundation that accepts period product donations and ask them further detail about what do they currently need;
- Confirm all the arrangements regarding collection or delivery, including postage prices and who’s going to be responsible for them;
- Make an agreement about the expected dates of collection or delivery;
- Pick a suitable collection box and arrange a place to leave it for a certain period of time so that other people can contribute;
- Inform coworkers and/or local communities about the box and ask them to participate;
- Spread awareness by using authorized e-mails and/or printed materials that inform what the box is for;
- Collect the donations regularly and store them safely;
- Once the collection period is over, pack what you’ve gathered and arranged delivery to the chosen charity.
Simple enough to implement, is it not? All you need to do is give it a little of your time and a bit of your heart. Because every effort counts, and every person can make a change, as long as they begin trying.
5. Think Globally
Disrupted access to hygiene products is indeed bad enough already. But what about those women out there who don’t even get to use fresh water and safe sanitation infrastructure?
Many developing countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, or Tajikistan are currently battling to ensure fundamental necessities such as soap and toilet paper delivery, gender-separated toilets, and proper education to end period stigma in the members of society.
Battling cultural and religious barriers, solving financial issues, and granting support in organizational terms is vital for the ongoing reformation of the global landscape when it comes to women’s health and hygiene. It’s a long-term process, and everyone can be involved in it just as much as they want to.
So – addressing those international issues is something every one of us can do by actively supporting causes and programs that aim to improve women’s wellbeing on a global scale. Because period poverty is very real, and no one is immune to it.