Periods are inevitable for the majority of women. However, period poverty is present in many of these women’s lives. In the U.K., one out of eight women struggle to afford sanity products. In developing countries, it is even worse. For example, only 36% of India’s population is able to afford any sort of menstruation product. In Tawain, 9% of girls are affected by period poverty.
Fortunately, in many areas of the world, organizations are working to combat period poverty. For example, in Taiwan in 2022, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation gave access to period products if requested at 20 different railway stations.
Period poverty is an unknown term to many. The term “period poverty” has been described by the U.N. as the difficulty faced by low-income women to afford menstruation products. In many places, the only options for women are rags, tissue paper, cloth, paper towels taken from public bathrooms, or leftovers of children’s nappies. This is unsanitary and negatively affects women’s health.
Taiwan Makes Huge Strides
Because of period poverty, many girls miss up to a week of school a month, further alienating women from the right to education. Since August 1, 2023, Taiwan has made period products available for free to all students, and students from low-income backgrounds are able to take home extra supplies. Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has invested $3.8 billion into the project.
This program opens up the conversation about periods and tackles the stigma around periods. Many girls feel ashamed and embarrassed for something that is entirely natural and nonpreventable. Some stereotypes are that periods are dirty and women should not be around others when they are having one. By having the products available in schools it shows young boys that girls deserve a right to education just as much as they do.
It is not only in schools that this program will be carried out but also in 10 other locations, including the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung and the National Taiwan Library in New Taipei. Overall, It is estimated that 95,000 girls will benefit from this program.
Taiwan is following in the footsteps of other countries, like Scotland in 2020 and New Zealand in 2021. Perhaps Taiwan’s project will encourage other countries to follow suit.
– Tegan Leonard