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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

Top Ten Facts about Period Poverty in the U.K.
Nearly 800 million women and girls menstruate daily. Period poverty encompasses the shame, guilt and cost barriers around access to sanitary products. One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom is unable to afford sanitary wear, resulting in detriment to their self-esteem, education and overall quality of life. Eliminating period poverty has often been the focus of nonprofits and the U.K.’s government. Below are the top 10 facts about period poverty in the U.K. that are important to know.

Top 10 Facts About Period Poverty in the U.K.

  1. An estimated 49 percent of girls have missed a day of school due to their periods. One in five girls surveyed in a 2019 study reported being a victim of bullying and teasing because of their periods. Girls faced increased feelings of shame and embarrassment when on their periods or discussing their period in an academic setting. This resulted in absences from school and led female students to struggle to keep up with their schoolwork.
  2. Women in the U.K. spend as much as 18,450 euros ($20.744 USD) due to their period across their lifetime. The total accounts for the costs of sanitary items, pain relief for cramps, new underwear and other period-related costs such as sweets or magazines. Of those interviewed, 91 percent purchase pain relief to ease the symptoms of periods on a regular basis. All of the 2,134 women surveyed responded that feminine hygiene products should cost less money, and some added that the government should remove its tax on those products.
  3. Free Periods is a campaign supplying low-income girls with menstrual products. Amika George, a 19-year-old student studying at Cambridge University, founded Free Periods. George called on the U.K. government to assure sanitary products are widely available in educational settings. The campaign also held a protest in London to bring attention to the ongoing issue.
  4. Plan International UK found that 10 percent of girls are unable to afford sanitary products. The cost of sanitary products has led 14 percent of girls to borrow sanitary products from friends, 12 percent to improvise sanitary products and 19 percent to change to less suitable products.
  5. Bloody Good Period, created by Gabby Edlin in 2018, supplies 25 asylum seeker centers in the U.K. with a flow of menstrual products. The growing initiative aspires to supply more food banks and centers in its mission to end period poverty.
  6. Girls throughout the U.K. not only miss school but often improvise sanitary products to use during their period. Girls have shared their stories of wrapping a sock around their underwear to control the bleeding. Others have wrapped rolls of tissues or newspapers in order to prevent leakage through their uniforms.
  7. In 2018, the Scottish government rolled out a plan to provide free sanitary products to women unable to afford them. Projections determine that it will reach approximately 18,800 low-income women and girls in an attempt to combat period poverty.
  8. The Gift Wellness Foundation provides non-toxic sanitary pads to women in crisis throughout the U.K. The Foundation relies on donations and the generosity of local community businesses. Donated sanitary products contain all-natural ingredients to ensure they are free of harmful chemicals.
  9. As of 2017, an estimated 68,000 women lived on the streets in temporary housing or shelters. These women have to make decisions that often leave them without sanitary products due to their financial situation. Each year, shelters get an allowance for condoms but not for sanitary products.
  10. Three individuals who met as interns at a London advertising agency founded #TheHomelessPeriod. Inspired to minimize the hidden side of an inequality, #TheHomelessPeriod aims to have tampons and towels available in homeless shelters through donations, crowdfunding and fundraising.

The top 10 facts about period poverty in the U.K. show the frequent inaccessibility of sanitary products to girls and women throughout the nation. While the Scottish government leads the way in the efforts to end period poverty, other governments have yet to replicate its actions. Individuals within the U.K. have taken it upon themselves to create campaigns to combat the hidden inequality and have seen success in their efforts.

– Gwen Schemm
Photo: Unsplash