Period Poverty - Changing The Way We Talk About Periods
We need to start talking more about our periods and women’s health. One of the biggest problems with the way we talk about periods is the fact that we often don’t talk about them. If base-level conversations about periods are deemed taboo, trying to address the more dire problems related to them becomes even more difficult.
Luxury Products - Pads and Tampons Are a Necessity, Not a Luxury
In many countries, menstrual products are taxed as “luxury items,” and those with low incomes struggle to afford them. Many young girls around the world miss school because they lack the resources required to manage their periods.
Menstruation and reproductive health are still taboo topics in so many places around the world. Even in our modern North American culture, these taboos still heavily exist today.
Around the world, only 12 percent of young people with periods have access to the products they need.
In India, more than eight in ten people don’t have access to menstrual products. The same is true for an estimated 50,000 people who are homeless in the United States
66% of South-East Asian girls know nothing about menstruation until they start
In Kenya, 65% of people don’t have enough money to buy menstrual products
In Burkina Faso, 83% of students don’t have a place to change menstrual products at school
In Africa, one in ten adolescent girls misses school during her period.
Across the world, an estimated 100 million young people lack access to adequate menstrual products
In some countries, people are still isolated from their communities while on their periods
In 2012, VICE published a photo series by Emma Arvida Bystrom called “There Will Be Blood,” featuring portraits of people with period stains on their clothing. There was no accompanying text, but the images sparked a big debate, including a 2012 Feministing community post on free bleeding.
Then, in 2015, drummer Kiran Gandhi, decided to run the London Marathon without using a tampon or pad. Photos of her bloodstained leggings went viral, and her run was covered in publications like the New York Times. She also wrote an amazing article about the experience called "Going With The Flow".
“It would have been way too uncomfortable to worry about a tampon for 26.2 miles… I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day.” - Kiran Gandhi
Women in the US alone throw away about seven pounds of feminine hygiene products every year, and Gandhi used her high profile to draw attention to those environmental concerns. She was also quick to point out that one of the reasons we don’t have more sustainable products available to us is because we aren’t given the freedom to speak freely and openly about our menstruation experiences.
Organizations and Companies Doing Something
Clue’s vision is to enable women all around the world to have insight into their bodies and be empowered by their knowledge. They created an app that analyzes accumulated data to show your typical cycle length, period length, and other symptoms. It's one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use apps out there. Their goal is to educate, empower and change the world through the research they are doing in partnership with universities and the extensive info they publish on the Clue blog.
“From lack of access to affordable menstrual products to overall stigmatization, the way we talk about period problems needs to extend to those whose health and well-being is most at stake.” - Clue
The WomenStrong organization works to make menstrual products and better reproductive health education a reality for everyone.Their mission focuses on six essential needs: health, safety, shelter, education, economic empowerment, and urban environment. Lack of access to basic necessities, like period products, affects each of these six needs. In turn, making sure people have access to menstrual products has a positive effect on people’s lives beyond the basic, health-related purpose these products serve.
Period Positivity Instagram Accounts To Follow:
SLXLMPeriod stigmatization has real consequences. It prevents people from having access to basic necessities and impedes on their education and career opportunities. Teaching everyone about periods equally and talking about it openly is necessary in order to address the reality of period problems around the world and help reduce the stigma overall. It starts by openly talking to your partner, peers, friends and family about it without shame.
Post by: Melissa Embury