What Is Period Poverty And Why Should I Give AF?
The sitch is pretty dire.
Period poverty. You may have heard of it, but do you actually know what it's all about?
Check out when MTV News spoke to J-Law, gal-dem, and period poverty activists Amika George and Grace Campbell...
Fear not because we’ve got all the answers, so next time period poverty comes up you’ll be totally clued up and woke AF. And take it from us, you deffo need to be clued up.
What is it?
Period poverty means not being able to access sanitary products when your period comes around because of financial constraints. Simple, right? Well it gets complicated.
Why is it a problem?
Being able to use sanitary products like tampons, pads or a mooncup when you’re on your period isn’t a luxury (though shockingly sanitary products are often taxed as luxuries), it’s an absolute necessity. Without them girls aren’t able to manage their periods in a safe, private and dignified way – which is a basic human right.
Period poverty can make girls feel too embarrassed and uncomfortable to be at school on their periods because they’re scared about their classmates seeing and bullying them for it. Girls experiencing period poverty often use unhygienic materials like socks or bits of newspaper to stuff their pants as a cheap replacement for pads.
In some areas of the world, girls stop going to school altogether once they start menstruating, or they stop because missing school during their period has meant they’ve fallen too far behind in their studies. Stopping education then means they have a greater chance of falling into child marriage and early pregnancy.
Girls around the world are putting their hygiene and health, and even their education, at risk because they can’t afford sanitary products, so it’s a very real problem with very real consequences. These products are as essential as toilet paper, and even more urgently necessary. Not enough is being done to make sure women have the products they need every month, partly because people are still so scared to talk about the taboo that is periods.
Definitely another reason to be a feminist, ppl.
What are the stats?
According to a report by UNESCO, 1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss school when they’re on their periods. The World Bank states that in Kenya alone, one million girls don’t go to school due to lacking sanitary pads. We’re talking BIG numbers, worldwide.
The fact that (according to UNESCO) out of 50 low-income countries, on average only 51% of schools have adequate water sources and only 45% have adequate sanitation facilities doesn’t help matters. As most girls can probs vouch for… no one wants to use a dodgy loo around that time of month.
Period poverty isn't just affecting girls in developing countries - it's big in the UK too. In fact, a Plan UK 2017 survey found that 1 in 10 girls in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary products.
What can we all do to help?
All around the world, periods are still taboo, so one of the best everyday things we can all do is talk about periods. Cos guess what? They’re the most natural things in the world, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Lifting taboos always clears the way for change, and we deffo want change. We want every girl around the world to be able to access sanitary products and decent toilet facilities at school. Period.
Action Aid is a charity that works on that. They build period safe rooms in schools for girls where there are toilets, sanitary products, spare clothes and showers, so that students never have to let being on their periods get in the way of learning. They also make sure girls have access to better period education. So why not donate to them? In fact, they do a special gift where for £3 you can give menstrual hygiene kits to girls in crisis who can't afford sanitary products.
You could also donate to The Homeless Period in the UK, which provides homeless women with free sanitary products.
There are also petitions to sign. Once the truth about how many girls were living in period poverty in the UK came out, Free Periods leader Amika George created a petition to demand that all girls who are granted free school meals would also receive free sanitary products. Why not sign it? You could also sign this petition which is asking for free sanitary products in all UK schools.
Above all, remember: you've got the power to change things.
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