Cost of Living Crisis
Period poverty is not a new issue. In the U.K., it has been around for countless years, causing profound problems for those that suffer from it. However, the
cost of living crisis, something which has involved the prices of essential items increasing and wages and disposable income falling, has exacerbated it. The cost of living crisis in the U.K. has only worsened the period poverty.

The Crisis

The Institute for Government refers to the cost of living crisis in the U.K. as being the fall in ‘real’ disposable incomes, something caused by high inflation going above wages. The arrival of this crisis in the U.K. is an economic consequence of two major events that have occurred over the last two years. The events are the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. The former has prompted the largest recession in modern times, with gross domestic product (GDP) declining by 9.7% in 2020, the steepest since 1948, while the latter has placed the economy at risk. The invasion has contributed to even more debt, the plunging of the pound’s value and perhaps the most far-reaching consequence, increased costs, especially in relation to household necessities (including, energy, petrol and food).

It is no mystery that the crisis will affect poorer households in the U.K. more than richer ones. The households experience higher inflation rates at 10.9% on average than richer households at 7.9%. Despite this not seeming like a large difference, increasing costs mean that the poorest households are unable to afford and thus, utilize household necessities. One such necessity is period products.

Period Poverty

Period poverty is a global problem, even in the industrialized and wealthy west, including the U.K. The phenomenon describes the struggle that many women and girls, especially those from low-income backgrounds, face when accessing period products. It does not relate only to sanitary products, such as pads and tampons, but other related costs such as pain medication and underwear.

Difficulty in affording these products has profound consequences on the lives of sufferers. Oftentimes, this issue threatens education and economic opportunities as girls and women have to stay at home from school and work. Plan International estimates that more than 137,000 girls across the U.K. have missed school days due to period poverty. This impact justifies the economic, social and political ramifications of period poverty.

The Cost of Living Crisis and Period Poverty in the UK

The cost of living crisis in the U.K. has had a profound impact on period poverty sufferers. In the U.K., period poverty affects one in three girls. Due to high production costs because of inflation, many supermarkets are forced to increase the prices of products. For instance, Tesco has doubled the price of its least expensive period product (pads) from 23 pence a pack to 42 pence. Due to the high costs, many women and girls have had to prioritize other essential items (food and energy) over period products, forcing them to keep current sanitary products in for longer or continuously using tissues.

The crisis has also increased the demand for ‘hygiene banks,’ services that provide free products. In the first 3 months of 2022, the charity Bloody Good Period reported a 78% increase in this, with products provided rising from 7,452 packs in 2020 to 13,284. The banks emerged to bridge the financial constraints that charities that typically provide period products were facing by making period products available themselves.

Two Organizations Making a Change

The cost of living crisis and its impact on period poverty in the U.K. justifies the fact that the phenomenon does not only appear in the developing world. Fortunately, in the U.K., there are organizations working to support those that suffer from the phenomenon.

Bloody Good Period

Bloody Good Period originated with the aim of creating a more sustainable flow of menstrual products. Since its founding in 2016, the organization has worked with more than 100 organizations across England and Wales, supporting more and more women and girls. It does this in four ways:

  • Delivering: Helping to provide menstrual supplies to those that suffer from period poverty.
  • Educating: Providing sexual and reproductive health education to those that cannot access it.
  • Normalizing: Fighting to eradicate the shame and stigma around menstruation and period poverty.
  • Amplifying: Demanding free treatment for those that bleed.

Bloody Good Period’s continuous usage of these four ways has been successful in enabling the organization to carry out its aim to recognize “the trauma and anxiety caused by not having access to essential menstrual products.”

Period Poverty UK

The founder of Gift Wellness Limited, Dr. Zareen Roohi Ahmed, established Period Poverty U.K. in 2013 with the aim of eradicating period poverty by 2025.

In March 2022, the organization launched a fundraiser called Red Rebel Day to end period poverty. It had two core objectives:

  • To raise £50,000 to supply 12,000 period products to women in need, including homeless women in the U.K. and refugees in war-torn countries.
  • To campaign for period products to make them available free of charge in all public spaces across the U.K.

This fundraiser has been successful in providing sanitary products to homeless women, students and women in low-income employment.

The rise in those suffering from period poverty and the U.K. cost of living crisis cannot be separated. The former has been present and wide-ranging for years, while the latter has ensured that the costs of essential period products have increased at exponential rates. Nevertheless, the increase of organizations working to support those that suffer from period poverty has grown and is continuing to grow, something which presents a hopefully more optimistic future.

– Harkiran Bharij
Photo: Flickr

period poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty happens when people are unable to afford or access proper period products due to low income. The average period lasts around five days, costing Scottish people around $10 a month for period products. Period poverty is a global issue that is not receiving enough attention. The U.K. is the first country to take significant steps to reduce period poverty. Here is some information about period poverty in the United Kingdom.

Period Poverty in the United Kingdom

In 2020, more than 2,000 people took a survey in schools, colleges and universities around Scotland. The results showed that one in four respondents was unable to access period products.

According to a Plan International report from 2017, a British children’s charity, period poverty affects one in 10 British girls aged 14 to 21. Furthermore, 49% of girls across the U.K. admitted to having missed a day of school because of their inability to access period products.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Period Poverty

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, period poverty in the U.K. has increased. Before the pandemic, low-income British residents often accessed period products through schools or community centers. However, after the lockdown, they no longer had such access.

Bloody Good Period and Freedom4Girls, founded in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are two national charities that focus on improving the accessibility of period products and reducing the stigma around periods. Bloody Good Period distributes products to 40 drop-in services and groups in the U.K. and to more than 2,000 people each month. In 2020, both charities saw drastic increases in their products’ distributions. Before the pandemic, Bloody Good Period typically distributed around 5,000-period packs a month, but the number grew to 23,000 in the three months after March 2020. Similarly, Freedom4Girls’ production increased fivefold.

Scotland’s Efforts to Alleviate Period Poverty

In 2020, Scotland made history as the first country to make period products free for all. Monica Lennon, a member of the Scottish Parliament, introduced the Period Products Bill, which passed in November 2020. Lennon has been fighting for an end to period poverty since 2016 and was finally able to gain significant attention for the cause in 2020, when more girls began to suffer from period poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish government funded the period poverty campaign with 5.2 million euros. Of this money, the government set half a million euros aside to deliver free period products to residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Additionally, the U.K. government has created its own period poverty task force. The task force’s main goals are to destigmatize periods, educate people on periods and ensure that period products are widely accessible.

The Red Box Project

Similarly, in Portsmouth, England, three women decided to start a movement to end period poverty. They sympathized with low-income teenage girls who could not afford period products and recognized that period poverty impacts both current and future mental health and well-being. It started its campaign, the Red Box Project, in March 2017. The Red Box Project fills red boxes with pads and tampons and gives them to schools. The Red Box Project has placed boxes in more than 2,200 schools, colleges and youth clubs. As word of the project spread, its founders started to push for governmental action against period poverty. As a result of national efforts, in January 2020, Britain’s Department for Education made period products freely available to all state schools and colleges in England.

The actions that some are taking to reduce period poverty in the United Kingdom should provide other countries hope as they fight similar battles. With passionate, driven residents and new legislation, women around the world can begin to live in peace.

Shamolie Panjwani
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in Myanmar
Period poverty is when women do not have adequate access to sanitary napkins and other resources to aid them during menstruation. This leads many women to use the same napkin for an extended period of time, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections. Period poverty in Myanmar is particularly prevalent.

Period poverty research is a relatively new topic. There are no formal records documenting how many women lack access to pads. Additionally, the investigation into period poverty is more recent in Southeast Asian countries. Based on the information that some have acquired, here are five facts about period poverty in Myanmar.

5 Facts About Period Poverty in Myanmar

  1. Women Often Stay Home: Period poverty has long-term effects on women. For example, when women are on their period, they tend to stay at home, where they are closer to sanitary napkins and other supplies. Women spend about 10-20% of the year at home due to their period and a lack of sanitary items. In addition, disabled women and women in prison have little to no access to pads.
  2. Organizations Providing Sanitary Products: Organizations such as Bloody Good Period and The Pad Project have been working hard to raise money to donate sanitary napkins to women in countries facing period poverty. Zuraidah Daut is a social activist in Malaysia who places empty boxes outside of storefronts to collect donations. Many people donate pads and sanitary napkins for those who cannot afford them.
  3. Adequate Sanitation Facilities: Another reason women and girls might stay home during their periods is a lack of adequate sanitation facilities at school or work. For example, in many schools, girls and boys share toilets, which increases the likelihood of girls staying home during their periods. Public facilities also do not always have soap, water or a place to dispose of sanitary products.
  4. Cultural Stereotypes: Many people hold stigmatizing cultural stereotypes about periods in Myanmar. For example, some people in Myanmar believe that periods are dirty. As a result, about 50% of women think periods are a disease. Furthermore, about 80% of women reported feeling embarrassed by their first period. People in Myanmar commonly believe that women should not wash their hair, go to temples or eat tea leaf salad to cleanse themselves during their period.
  5. Changing Mindsets: The good news is that women in Myanmar are improving their mindsets about periods. Burmese artist Shwe Wutt Hmon displayed an art exhibit exploring the shame surrounding periods and menstruation in Yangon, Myanmar. The piece involved asking 30 different women about their experiences and opinions of their period. Hmon encouraged women to accept menstruation and respect their bodies. Her exhibitions depict women eating tea leaf salad and kneeling with their legs chained and sitting beside one another, which are all superstitions the Myanmar people connect to the perception that periods as dirty. This effort and others like it are essential for changing long-held beliefs about women and menstruation.

Period poverty in Myanmar prevents many women from having access to sanitary products or adequate sanitation facilities. Cultural stereotypes around menstruation also make managing periods difficult for women. Fortunately, many organizations and individuals are intervening and educating others on better and safer practices. Over time, sanitary products will hopefully become more accessible as the stigma surrounding menstruation decreases.

– Alyssa Ranola
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty in the U.K. affects millions and the pandemic has exacerbated it. In 2017, research studies discovered that one in 10 girls in Britain could not afford period products. It also revealed that one in seven struggles to afford period products. Periods embarrass almost 50% of girls in the U.K. between the ages of 14 and 21. Meanwhile, one in seven have revealed that they do not know what happens when they have their period. Additionally, only one in five girls feels comfortable talking about their periods. In response to this, the nonprofit organization Bloody Good Period provides support for asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K.

What is Period Poverty?

Period poverty is a lack of access to period products and information on period products and menstruation. According to the charity Freedom4Girls, this issue affects more than 300 million around the world.

How Does Period Poverty Impact Asylum Seekers and Refugees?

Women who seek asylum in the U.K. receive 37.75 pounds ($52.90) a week to live on. This amount of money is not enough for women to live on or pay for monthly period products. Failed asylum seekers who cannot receive asylum support must rely on charities for their basic needs.

According to the Women for Refugee Women brief, 75% of the 78 women interviewed struggled to access period pads and tampons. These women had to overuse period products, improvise period wear or beg for money to pay for products. It is common for asylum-seeking women to have to choose to live without food or other basic needs to pay for period products. Period poverty makes it even more difficult for asylum-seekers to rebuild their lives.

What is Bloody Good Period?

Gabby Edlin started Bloody Good Period after helping refugee families at a London drop-in center. After learning that period products were not regularly passed out, Edlin questioned the logic. She started the organization with a simple Facebook message.

The organization takes a head-on approach to the issue, encouraging a simplistic approach that consults women on their period wants and needs. Bloody Good Period also works to start a conversation on periods to create a space where women do not feel ashamed of their period while reducing misinformation and increasing awareness. The organization is also partnering with The Body Shop, which funds education workshops on periods and menopause for refugees and asylum seekers.

Bloody Good Period’s Methods

Bloody Good Period’s partnership with The Body Shop has resulted in the donation of 10,000 packs to local charities and organizations for the homeless, women refugees, asylum seekers and refugees in the past year. The two organizations have been vital during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2021, Bloody Good Period has provided supplies to food banks, created community support groups and granted support to people facing domestic violence. It has also worked to aid asylum seekers, refugees and homeless shelters. The charity provided 53,000 products since the pandemic and 700 packs of menstrual products in March and April 2020. While Bloody Good Period has supplied a high number of products, the demand has been even higher during the pandemic.

Bloody Good Period’s work is necessary to fight period poverty in the U.K. Continuous support is always necessary, especially during the pandemic, because “periods don’t stop in a pandemic,” said Bloody Good Period’s founder Gabby Edlin.

– Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Unsplash

Feminine Product Companies that Give Back For people living in extreme poverty around the world, access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medical care is a daily struggle. In addition to this, women face another challenge — access to menstrual products like pads and tampons. In fact, 1 million women worldwide cannot afford sanitary products. This issue, called “period poverty,” is one that many people and organizations are trying to combat. Here are five feminine products that give back to women around the world.

5 Feminine Product Companies that Give Back to Women

  1. Cora – Cora is a company that sells organic tampons whose mission is to fight period poverty. Cora uses a portion of its monthly revenue to provide sustainable period management for women in India. The company also empowers women through employment and education opportunities. According to the company website, “with every Cora purchase, we provide pads and health education to a girl in need. We use the power of business to fight for gender equality and to provide products, education and jobs to girls and women in need in developing nations and right here at home.”
  2. Lunapads – Lunapads is a feminine product company that has been supporting menstrual and reproductive health as well as access to period education in the Global South since 2000 through an organization called Pads4Girls. Pads4Girls educates women about healthy and economically efficient period products, such as the use of washable cloth menstrual pads and underwear that can last for years. Pads4Girls has helped to supply 100,000+ reusable menstrual pads and period underwear to more than 17,000 menstruators in 18 different nations.
  3. Days for Girls – Days for Girls is an international organization whose mission is to address global issues surrounding period poverty and provide education and access to menstrual products to those living in poverty. The organization has been working to achieve this goal by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. To date, the Days for Girls movement has reached 1 million girls and counting.
  4. Bloody Good Period – Bloody Good Period is a period company based in the U.K. Gabby Edlin, the founder of the company, decided to do something about creating a sustainable flow of menstrual products for those who cannot afford them in the U.K. Bloody Good Period also sells merchandise and hosts events that highlight the stigmas around menstrual health and issues surrounding period poverty. The organization supplies 25 asylum seeker drop-in centers based in London and Leeds and supplies food banks and drop-in centers across the U.K. with period supplies.
  5. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) – Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is an organization whose main goal is to help women in Rwanda jumpstart locally owned franchises and businesses to manufacture and create affordable and eco-friendly pads. SHE works with local businesses to produce these pads with local farmers and manufacturing teams and works with these businesses on making pads affordable for those around the country. SHE also trains community health workers on how to provide education to boys and girls about puberty and menstrual hygiene. So far, SHE has allowed 60,101 girls and women living in poverty to have access to pads, and its mission has reached 4.3 million people through advocacy and social media.

Although the issue of period poverty continues to be a constant struggle for women and girls around the world, these were five feminine products that give back to women.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Period PovertyOftentimes when we think of poverty, food insecurity and homelessness come to mind. What we don’t necessarily think about is the inability to afford toiletries and items such as tampons and pads – and, the reality is, people are often too ashamed or embarrassed to bring up the topic of menstrual cycles. Forty million women and girls around the world are affected by period poverty, and the silence must come to an end. Here are five facts about period poverty that are important to talk about:

  1. A year’s supply of sanitary products in the United States costs more than $70. In the U.K., there is a five percent tax on period products – in total, sanitary products cost over 5,000 pounds in a lifetime.
  2. Lack of affordability and information have led many young women to use only one tampon per day or one pad for multiple days. When proper products are not available or affordable, women are often forced to use alternatives such as socks, dishrags and newspapers during their cycles.
  3. Lack of menstrual hygiene can lead to very serious health risks such as Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life-threatening illness. In Bangladesh, India and many other countries, infections and cervical cancer are also results of poor hygiene.
  4. Many girls from low-income families around the world are skipping school because they cannot afford tampons or pads. Missing school during menstrual cycles has been a well-known pattern in developing countries, like Kenya, for years. Now, the reality is setting in that this is a trend for low-income girls everywhere, including the Western world.
  5. The stigma surrounding periods has been shown to directly affect a girl’s potential to succeed. If a girl misses school every time she has her period, she is set 145 days behind her fellow male students. Even then, most girls in the developing world choose to drop out of school altogether rather than face the embarrassment and shame of being unprepared for their periods.

Unfortunately, many people fail to recognize the effects that period poverty have on young women and girls. In times of uncertainty, sanitary needs come secondary, or even tertiary, to finding food and shelter. While this is understandable, a few organizations such as Freedom4Girls and Bloody Good Period, and many others, are fighting back against period poverty.

One of the biggest defenses against period poverty is to start a conversation and stop the stigma.

Madeline Boeding

Photo: Flickr