The feminine hygiene product brand, Always, is addressing period poverty in Jamaica for the fourth year in a row. By providing thousands of girls with sanitary pads, Always works to end period poverty in Jamaica.
About Period Poverty
Period poverty, or the lack of access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities, is a public health crisis that is currently affecting about 500 million women worldwide as of 2021. As of 2017, according to the World Bank, around 19.3% of people in Jamaica live below the poverty line. According to a study that Shelly-Ann Weeks conducted through the HerFlow Foundation, 44% of girls in Jamaica suffer from period poverty and have to go without sanitary supplies for months at a time.
Aside from the obvious implications, girls in Jamaica are ending up at a major disadvantage due to their lack of access to period products. Many girls facing period poverty miss as much as a week of school per month, causing their grades to drop and their self-esteem to dwindle. Girls facing period poverty suffer from the psychological impacts of feeling inferior and of lower status as a result of a basic biological process. This shame and guilt among teenagers can affect them well into womanhood. The inability to properly care for their bodies puts girls at risk for health issues that many in Jamaica cannot afford to treat, such as reproductive and urinary tract infections.
Period Poverty and COVID-19
Although period poverty is a historically taboo issue, the world has put the problem on the back burner during the past two years due to other issues deemed more urgent, stemming from COVID-19. The hotel and restaurant industries in Jamaica endured hard hits when tourism came to a halt in 2020 as the tourism sector laid off as many as 50,000 employees. In a country where many have lived in poverty since before the onset of the pandemic, this hit only worsened people’s living conditions and made basic products, such as feminine hygiene products, even less accessible.
How Always Works to End Period Poverty in Jamaica
Always acknowledges the timeliness of this campaign, as many families have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table, never mind purchasing sanitary pads. As Always continues to work to end period poverty in Jamaica, it set a goal for 2022 to donate more than 200,000 sanitary pads to 14 schools in 14 different parishes throughout Jamaica. From the beginning of March 2022 to June 2022, Always ran a period poverty campaign where, for every Always product purchase by a consumer, the company will make a direct donation to a female in need.
Always is working in conjunction with the HerFlow Foundation, the country’s leading enterprise in addressing the stigma around menstruation and ending period poverty. Volunteers at the HerFlow Foundation will ensure that the Always product donations make their way to the designated schools. Various social media influencers from Jamaica have agreed to help expand the campaign and educate people about the issue and how they can help make a difference.
While Always is working to end period poverty in Jamaica, the fight will not end with just one effort. Girls will continue to turn to harmful alternatives for feminine hygiene products and will remain unable to learn and socialize as a result of period poverty. Amid its recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, Jamaica is still not equipped to provide access to sanitary products to every girl in need. In order to preserve girls’ confidence and health in the most basic of ways, it is vital that companies and organizations continue prioritizing access to menstrual products for young girls in Jamaica.
– Ava Lombardi