Understanding Period Poverty
Period poverty highlights a serious issue affecting millions of menstruating individuals worldwide. This historically silent crisis is thankfully becoming more openly spoken about, but there’s so much more to be done. It revolves around the lack of access to menstrual products, education, and proper sanitation facilities, placing a huge burden on those already facing socio-economic challenges. In this blog post, we will delve into the depths of period poverty, exploring its impact, causes, and potential solutions that we can all begin to take part in.
What Is Period Poverty?
Period poverty refers to the inability of people to afford or access essential menstrual products, including pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. This dire situation often leads to unhygienic practices, compromising the physical and mental well-being of those affected. The consequences of period poverty extend beyond the monthly struggle for supplies; it contributes to a cycle of economic instability, reinforcing existing shame and stigma surrounding periods.
The Impact of Period Poverty
Limited access to menstrual products can lead to unhygienic practices. Period products, like pads and tampons, should be changed every 3-4 hours. The longer people leave them in, the higher the risk of infections like Toxic Shock Syndrome and other health issues.
Many individuals, particularly students, miss school or work due to the lack of menstrual supplies. This perpetuates a cycle of missed opportunities and decreased educational attainment. On average, girls and young students with periods can miss up to X amount of school days due to period poverty. And this average increases drastically for those in third world countries.
Dealing with period poverty can lead to stress, anxiety, and a strong sense of shame. Our periods are hard enough as it is, but adding uncertainty about where you’ll get your next pad or tampon can be incredibly worrying and debilitating.
Period poverty is often intertwined with broader economic issues, creating a barrier for individuals to break free from the cycle of poverty. It can be a barrier to adequate education for young students, affecting their academic performance and putting them at risk of dropping out of school, further reducing their future economic opportunities.
Root Causes of Period Poverty
Limited financial resources make it challenging for people to allocate funds for menstrual products.
Lack of Education
Insufficient awareness and education regarding menstruation contribute to the continued stigma and discrimination.
Inadequate policies addressing menstrual equity fail to provide the necessary support and resources to combat period poverty.
Societal taboos surrounding menstruation further marginalize those facing period poverty, hindering open discussions and advocacy efforts.
Addressing Period Poverty
Encouraging businesses to adopt menstrual-friendly policies and initiatives, including providing free menstrual products in restrooms, can contribute to a more inclusive environment.
At Riley, we are proudly partnered with over 170 corporations of all sizes across Ireland, UK and most of Europe. Not only are we working together to make period care as accessible as toilet paper, but we’re also opening up the conversation around female health as a whole and encouraging people to speak freely about their periods.
Implementing educational programs that destigmatize menstruation and promote awareness can help break down barriers and empower individuals.
With the help of our 3 incredible charity partners, we’re on a mission to put an end to period poverty. To date, we’ve donated over 60,000 period products, educated 3,500 Kenyan students on menstrual health and donated over €30,000 in funding.
We've partnered with Development Pamoja, an Irish registered charity in Kenya. We donate product regularly and we also sponsor a doctor-led menstruation education programme to almost 3,500 Kenyan students to educate them about their period, which is a major taboo subject in Kenya.
Closer to home, we've partnered with Positive Period Ireland, who are on a mission to end period poverty in Ireland. We work with PPI to donate eco-friendly period products to Homeless Outreach Centres, Direct Provision Centres and Women’s Refuges throughout Ireland.
Our newest charity partner is UK based Bloody Good Period. They’re fighting for menstrual equity and the rights of all people who bleed. We’re working with them to provide period products to those who can’t afford them in the UK. They also provide reproductive health education to those less likely to access it.
Advocating for comprehensive policies that address menstrual equity is crucial. This includes providing free or subsidized menstrual products in public spaces, schools, and workplaces.
Establishing community-driven initiatives and support networks can bridge the gap by providing resources and a sense of solidarity.
Period poverty is a multifaceted issue that requires collective efforts to dismantle. By raising awareness, encouraging organisations to introduce menstrual initiative, advocating for policy changes, and fostering supportive communities, we can work towards a future where menstruation is not a barrier to education, health, and economic well-being. It's time to break the silence, ensure menstrual equity for all and cleanse the world of period poverty once and for all.