Period Poverty in the Dominican Republic Joining the fight to tackle period poverty in the Dominican Republic, Batey Relief Alliance, a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic, worked with Always, a famous American brand of menstrual products, to distribute pads to Dominican women through their #ChicaAyudaChica campaign.

Period Poverty and its Effects

According to UNFPA, “period poverty describes the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products.” Though period poverty is a global issue, it is more prevalent in countries where women are disproportionately impacted by economic hardship. In the Dominican Republic, while the poverty rate is 3% higher for women compared to men, it is also important to note that “40% of women [carry] out unpaid work at home.”

Societal norms limit many Dominican women to domestic work rather than professional occupations. Women in rural Dominican Republic who do work often earn a total of $1 per day when the average package of pads costs $3, making it near impossible for them to afford the products. Thus, the cycle of period poverty persists.

Along with financial difficulties, women also struggled to access menstrual products due to COVID-19, as shown in a survey conducted in 30 countries including the Dominican Republic. Per the survey, 73% of health professionals noted that increased shortages and disrupted supply chains restricted women from buying menstrual products. In addition, 68% of health professionals highlighted that there was limited access to “facilities to change, clean and dispose of period products.”

Without access to sanitary products, most girls fear they will bleed through their clothing and be seen as “unclean” or “dirty” due to the taboo placed around periods and sexual health. In response, some girls trade sexual favors for money to pay for their menstrual products, while others simply stay home from school. These absences lead to lasting negative effects as these girls sometimes miss out on their education or drop out altogether.

How Batey Relief Alliance is Helping Dominican Women

Batey Relief Alliance is a non-political nonprofit founded in 1997 that addresses extreme poverty for women, children and families across the Americas and the Caribbean. In 2021, the organization revealed that 20% of Dominican girls in rural areas missed an average of 2-3 days of school monthly due to lack of access to menstrual products. Overall, a UNICEF report notes that only 56.7% of Dominican girls complete high school.

In response to period poverty in the Dominican Republic, the organization partnered with Always and a famous supermarket chain in the Dominican Republic called La Sirena to launch the ChicaAyudaChica campaign on April 6, 2022. The ChicaAyudaChica, or GirlHelpsGirl campaign is a response to the financial strain the pandemic placed on low-income families. The initiative grew using platforms like Twitter and Facebook to reach a bigger audience. By the end of the month, Always donated 20,000 sanitary pads to girls who lived in the rural province of Monte Plata, the seventh poorest town in the Dominican Republic.

Moving Forward

Even though the campaign is over, Always continues the fight against period poverty through its ongoing #EndPeriodPoverty movement, using social media as a tool to spread the word. As awareness of period poverty and its effects increases, the more young girls and women can gain control over their well-being and future economic opportunities.

– Blanly Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in BotswanaPeriod poverty is a global socio-economic issue that girls and women face due to the unaffordability of menstrual products and inaccessibility of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. To address period poverty in Botswana, the nation passed a motion in 2017 to supply free menstrual products to girls in both public and private schools. This will allow girls to continue their education amid their menstrual cycles.

Period Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

Because menstruation is a taboo topic in conservative communities and countries, many girls lack education on proper menstrual health and management. As a result of a lack of education and inability to access menstrual products, girls resort to dangerous substitutes, such as rags, wool and paper, that can lead to both short and long-term negative health consequences. In 2019, the World Bank noted that just 27% of people in sub-Saharan Africa had access to basic forms of sanitation, a factor that exacerbates difficulties in maintaining menstrual hygiene. Furthermore, due to a lack of access to WASH facilities, girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa are more susceptible to reproductive diseases.

Education is a fundamental right and a way out of poverty, yet, according to UNESCO, in 2014, due to period poverty, 10% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa missed school while menstruating. Furthermore, some girls lose 20% of their education, increasing the chances of girls dropping out of school entirely. The Botswana parliament’s motion for free period products to be available in schools highlights the importance of fighting period poverty to move closer to ending global poverty.

Cultural Issues

Due to menstrual taboos and stigmas, girls feel ashamed of their periods and miss school because of misinformation. When girls miss out on school, entire communities area are affected as the girl loses the ability to better the local area through the knowledge and skills gained through education. In Botswana, “religious beliefs, cultural practices and social myths” make discussing menstruation with adults difficult for young girls. As a result, girls do not know how to properly manage their menstruation. When girls do not feel shame about a natural biological process such as menstruation, these girls are empowered socially, physically, and ultimately, economically.

The Economics of Period Poverty

Sub-Saharan Africa has an extreme poverty rate of about 40% without much change from 1990 to 2018.  In Botswana specifically, according to the World Bank, the poverty rate reached 60% by April 2021 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These figures highlight the financial struggle of a vast amount of regional populations, a situation that makes purchasing period products understandably difficult. Period poverty in Botswana is partially a consequence of the high volume of impoverished residents that cannot afford basic necessities.


The Botswana government is combating period poverty in Botswana with nationwide legal policies to provide all girls, both in public and private school institutions, with free period products. Through programs and legislation that allows open conversations and access to sanitary products, girls in Botswana are one step closer to breaking free from cycles of poverty.

– Ann Shick
Photo: Flickr