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What is Period Poverty?

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

By Juhi Pandit


Although it is not everyone's preferred conversation starter, it is a crucial one. Around the world, period poverty is demonstrated via a lack of sanitary products and limited menstrual education. This leads to the perpetuation of menstrual stigma and prevents millions of women from being able to participate in daily life. However, period poverty is more than just a term. It has a tangible impact on one of the most crucial parts of a young girls' childhood: Education. UNICEF reported over 1/3 of girls in South Asia miss school during their period due to a lack of sanitary products and a fear of being mocked from their fellow male peers [1]. Joan, a 16-year-old from Uganda, attested to this, telling researchers "blood would…stain my clothes, and boys used to laugh at me… I eventually simply stayed home whenever my periods started" [2]. UNESCO found that if all women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southwest Asia received a secondary education, nearly 60% fewer girls would become pregnant under the age of 17, and 66% fewer child marriages would occur, making education a necessity for these girls [3]. Combating period poverty is a necessity, a fact which becomes all the more evident when one considers the health risks of the alternative sanitary products many girls use. In India, a mere 12% of girls and women have access to high priced sanitary products, with the rest using old rags, sawdust, cotton, and newspapers as makeshift pads [4]. The Indian Ministry of Health estimated that over 70% of women are at risk for a severe infection due to the substitute sanitary products [5]. By eradicating and discussing period poverty on a global scale, girls everywhere will be empowered and will no longer forsake their education due to menstrual shame and health concerns.



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