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Period poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina
When it comes to feminine hygiene, many people bow out of the conversation. It tends to be a forgotten issue because of the taboo nature of the problem. Period poverty refers to the struggle that many women go through when they cannot afford to buy feminine hygiene products. According to MedicalNewsToday, period poverty is affecting more than 500 million people globally as of 2021. Period poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina is very much affecting thousands of women and girls throughout the country.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country located in the Balkan region with a population of around 3.2 million people. Along with its seemingly shrinking population, it is also a very rural country, with 60% of the population living in rural areas. These rural people are also twice as likely to be poor compared to a citizen who lives in a city. Poverty in this country is nothing out of the ordinary. According to Brookings, in 2015, 15% of people in the country could not afford “basic life essentials.” According to the World Bank, 50.8% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population is female as of 2021. This leaves thousands of women and girls in the country at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to regularly afford sanitary products.

Period Products and Salaries

Period products are expensive. According to Bosnia’s Statistic Agency, the average salary of an average citizen in Bosnia and Herzegovina was just about €575 a month. A tax on tampons exists in many countries in the Balkan Region that many people have called on government agencies to address, as it has become difficult for many women to afford these products. In Croatia, for example, there is a 25-cent tax on tampons. On average, women in this country spend about €25 on period-related items such as sanitary items and painkillers each time they get their period.

The United Nations

The lack of access to these products makes it difficult for girls to attend school. Access to period-related products allows more girls to go to school and feel comfortable in their environments without the distraction of menstruation.

In the coming school year, the U.N. has teamed up with schools in Bosnia’s Sarajevo Canton to provide access to sanitary pads and menstrual health to students in order to shrink the effects of period poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The name of the campaign is “Za naše dane u mjesecu/For our days every month.” This initiative’s goal is to provide wider access to sanitary products and create awareness of this taboo issue that many people feel uncomfortable talking about. The U.N. wants to make sure that no one has to miss school days due to their period. With the launch of this new initiative, the country hopes to see fewer social inequalities because of menstruation.

How Always is Using Its Platform

Always also launched an initiative called #EndPeriodPoverty to combat the challenges that many girls face. The brand found that since the outbreak of COVID-19, “one in three girls feel less confident because they have missed school activities because of period-related issues.” The brand has teamed up with retailers to donate its products to countries in need with purchases of its products at participating retailers. It also launched the hashtag to bring awareness to this issue so people can post under the hashtag to their followers to make others aware. Though Always does not have a specific campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the brand’s initiative is fighting period poverty on a global scale.

Moving Foward

Period poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina seems to be shrinking with the help of these different initiatives. The U.N. campaign started in September 2022 and will continue through the school year until May 2023. Through this campaign, countless school-aged girls will gain access to the necessary products and education to ensure a hopeful school year and end the stigma and shame surrounding menstruation.

– Olivia MacGregor
Photo: Unsplash

Period Poverty in Jamaica
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.

Looking Ahead

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
Photo: Unsplash

Celebrity Solutions to Period PovertyCombinations of cultural stigmas and taboos, lack of access to menstrual products and inadequate sanitation facilities all contribute to period poverty. UNICEF highlights that 2.3 billion people across the world still do not have access to basic sanitation services. Each day, 800 million women and girls menstruate yet these barriers hinder them from properly managing their menstruation. Celebrity solutions to period poverty hope to address this global issue.

Period Poverty

The umbrella term of period poverty is used to describe “the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and educations, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities and waste management.” Oftentimes, women and young girls in countries that prominently experience this form of poverty are ostracized from activities such as socializing or eating particular foods. Furthermore, the cultural shame that menstruators carry with them hinders them from going to school and work. Generally, this results in girls being uneducated, further exacerbating the cycle of poverty. As the issue of period poverty increases, celebrity solutions to period poverty help raise awareness and look toward ways to reduce period poverty.

Celebrities Fighting Period Poverty

  1. Hilary Duff. In 2019, actress Hilary Duff partnered with Naturalena Brands and launched Veeda, a 100% natural period product line. Duff made it her mission to provide affordable and quality menstrual products for women and girls around the world. She spoke about period poverty in an interview with the Morning Show, “It is horrifying that something like your period is holding girls back from being able to go to school for a week every single month because they don’t have access to proper supplies.” Veeda works closely with the Naturalena Foundation which had donated more than three million feminine hygiene products to more than 10 countries.
  2. Gina Rodriguez. Actress Gina Rodriguez wrote an article for Teen Vogue in August 2018 in which she reflected on how different her life would have been if she had personally been impacted by period poverty. After learning about how many girls could not go to school because of their menstrual cycles, Rodriguez partnered with Always for the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign. The campaign aims to ensure that women and girls always feel supported so that their periods do not hold them back from living up to their fullest potential. Though the campaign addresses period poverty in the United States, it serves to raise awareness about the global issue of period poverty so that more people can become involved to take action globally.
  3. Amika George. In 2018, British activist Amika George was nominated for Teen Vogue’s “21 under 21” list by actor Emma Watson for her work toward achieving menstrual equality and ending period poverty. At the age of 17, after realizing that girls in the U.K. were not attending school because they were unable to afford period products to manage their menstruation, George started the campaign Free Periods to end period poverty. She also started a petition that received more than 200,000 signatures. This created awareness of the issue and resulted in a period poverty protest of 2,000 people outside the residence of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

These celebrity solutions to period poverty help create awareness and address a global issue that prevents girls and women around the world from reaching their full potential.

Meghana Nagendra
Photo: Flickr