Periods can be a bit of a taboo subject that people feel uncomfortable talking about but period poverty is a serious issue for girls and women all around the world. There is more awareness of food poverty but period poverty is a subject that is not as widely acknowledged.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty means that people do not have the financial means to buy the sanitary products they need to keep them protected during their period. It also involves having a poor knowledge about menstruation due to lack of education on the topic and not discussing it with family or with teachers.
It is a common misconception that period poverty does not exist in the UK and that it is an issue that affects girls and women living in developing countries. However, research shows that 1 in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford to buy menstrual products and 1 in 7 have struggled to buy menstrual products.
Consequences of period poverty
Not having access to menstrual products has a major impact on lives, from affecting health and wellbeing to preventing girls from going to school while they are menstruating.
Many girls make up excuses to miss school completely or miss PE lessons or other activities outside of school because they do not have adequate sanitary products.
Plan International UK conducted a survey in 2017 that revealed an estimated 137,000 children across the UK have missed school days because of period poverty. In addition to the cost of sanitary products, 5% VAT was included on sanitary items in the UK, increasing costs further.
Nursing Standard raised concerns about the growing number of school nurses buying sanitary products for girls to keep them in school. There has also been an increase in foodbanks supplying sanitary products for girls and women in the UK. Scotland became the first country to make sanitary products free in 2020, while the UK Government removed the “tampon tax” in 2021.
Most schools provide free sanitary products to pupils and some businesses have also started to provide free sanitary products in their toilets but this has not resolved the situation and during lockdown, pupils who relied on sanitary products through school could not access them.
Periods in humanitarian disasters
Action Aid has revealed that they are regularly told that menstrual products, wipes and soap are the items they need the most in countries where there are humanitarian disasters. In addition to food, water and shelter, having menstrual products is vital to managing periods safely. In many crisis situations, period products are unavailable and women and girls are forced to use unhygienic methods such as using old rags.
The future of period protection
In order to help combat period poverty and to also protect the environment, sustainable period products such as period knickers have been designed. Removing the need to buy sanitary products every month, period knickers provide different levels of absorbency to keep the wearer protected throughout the day, and they can then be washed at night.
IMAARA offers 5 levels of absorbency in a range of different knicker styles, providing women and girls around the world with a more sustainable solution to period protection.
Find out more about IMAARA knickers.