What is Period Poverty?
What is period poverty? When we think of poverty here in the UK we think about families struggling to pay bills and unable to afford food. But how often does that image include women forced to go without sanitary products?
Period poverty happens when girls and their families aren’t able to afford sanitary products every month. Often they see that their families are struggling financially and don’t want to add to that burden by asking for tampons and pads. Period poverty hit the headlines recently after it was revealed that girls in Leeds were missing school every month because their families couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products.
Statistics (Women/Girls aged 14-21)
According to Plan International, 49% of girls have missed a full day of school because of their period. Think about this, nearly half the girls in the UK have missed out on a full day of education because of a natural biological process.
64% of girls have missed PE or sport due to being on their period which, with the growing obesity crisis is a concern.
68% of girls feel less able to focus in school or college during their periods.
The main point I take from these statistics is that girls are missing out on life because of something they have no control over. Basic sanitary protection is not a luxury, it is an essential part of being female and the biological functions that come with it.
With little or no access to tampons or sanitary pads girls turn to alternatives that risk infection. Some use newspaper or tissues sellotaped to their underwear. Others resort to using one tampon all day which risks them getting toxic shock syndrome. Along with the health risks, not changing sanitary protection frequently means that girls are open to teasing when the blood begins to smell.
Some girls would rather stay at home where they can manage their periods without embarrassment. But this has a knock-on effect on their education. This is another example of girls missing out just because they are female. Education is a basic human right. Girls should not be missing school because of lack of access to sanitary protection.
What I found really shocking is that the UK government provides condoms for homeless people but not tampons or sanitary pads. So it’s important to have safe sex (which it is) but basic hygeine products for women aren’t? It makes my blood boil.
So What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty is when women can’t afford tampons or pads to use during their periods. Some miss work and school/college every month because of their periods. They also avoid taking part in sport and PE when they menstruate. Some women resort to less sanitary methods of asorbing period blood which risks infection.
For me, it is unacceptable that women in the UK in 2017 don’t have access to essential hygiene protection during their periods.
What do you think? Leave me a comment.
What can you do to help those in Period Poverty?
Stay tuned for next week’s post on how we can help those in period poverty.
Sign these petitions – Free sanitary products for girls on free school meals and Provide free sanitary products in UK schools
Donate sanitary products to your local food bank.
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