In Jamaica, period poverty affects 44% of girls, and many go without sanitary products for months. The lack of conversation surrounding periods causes stigmatization that dissuades girls from asking for supplies or information. Period poverty enforces gender inequality in Jamaica, as girls miss school and, therefore, vital education due to their periods.
The stigma surrounding women’s reproductive rights and menstruation makes it difficult for women to seek adequate health care and education about their bodies. In countries where education surrounding periods is limited and there is a lack of access to sanitary products, period poverty becomes an issue. UNICEF reported in Latin America, one in four adolescent girls who live in impoverished rural areas do not attend school but instead do unpaid domestic chores and care work. This lack of education limits their knowledge of their menstruation and health. In developing countries like Jamaica, the problem worsens, with period poverty being a central issue facing young girls and women.
About Always’ Work to End Period Poverty
Sanitary product company Always began a campaign in 2021 to end period poverty. Always found that 35% of girls treat menstruation as a “private matter” worldwide. The company committed itself to opening the discussion surrounding periods by installing a van in busy areas of Kingston, Jamaica. The van- nicknamed the Menstru-Mobile– tested passers-by on their knowledge of menstruation and provided information on period poverty.
Additionally, for every pack of Always purchased in shops linked to the campaign, the company donates a sanitary pad to girls affected by period poverty, and from 2021-2022, Always donated 200,000 sanitary pads in Jamaica due to this initiative. Always’ aim for 2023 is to donate more than 410,000 sanitary pads to girls in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama. These donations are delivered to communities experiencing period poverty through non-government organizations in Jamaica, such as HerFlow.
How the HerFlow Foundation is Educating Women
Shelly-Ann Weeks created the HerFlow Foundation in 2016. HerFlow works to end period poverty in by educating women and girls about their reproductive health and rights. The campaign started by assisting three schools in Jamaica but now works with over 300 schools, government homes and 28 health clinics, with more than 6 million period products donated.
Initiatives and organizations striving to end period poverty in Jamaica are making an immediate impact. Through donations and collaborations with companies such as Always, these initiatives have supported thousands of girls and made significant progress in ending period poverty.
– Anjini Snape