What Do We Know About Period Poverty and Its Effects?

Menstruation is something that most cisgender women and transgender men must experience during their lifetime.

The Woman Post | Valentina Ibarra

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The experience varies from person to person, but there is something in common: the need for sanitary products to live the process in the best possible way. The decision of which one to use -pads, tampons, or cups- is personal, but each person must have access to what they prefer. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The cost is not accessible to everyone who needs to use them, so women and trans men around the world must live their periods without the proper hygiene implements.

According to Harris Insights and Analytics, in a survey of 1,000 girls in the United States, 84% of girls absent from class or know someone who did so because they did not have access to menstrual supplies. In addition, 61% have used tampons for longer than recommended. Other countries have similar problems, with reports in the UK showing that 15% of girls had trouble purchasing their sanitary products, while 12% had to improvise because they couldn't afford it (The Guardian, 2019). In sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO estimates that girls miss 20% of their school year due to missing school due to their periods, and many even dropped out completely when their menstruation began.

Also read: IT IS TIME TO OPT FOR ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES IN FEMININE SANITARY PRODUCTS

In November 2020, Scotland became the first country to make menstruation products completely free. It is not the first time that the country has made history since in 2018 they began to provide free menstrual supplies in schools, colleges, and universities. But now, it should be available in all public buildings while an initiative is launched to find anyone who needs these products and give them to them for free. In February 2021, New Zealand joined the initiative and announced a plan to provide free period products in schools. In addition, universities began offering free sanitary products on their campuses, some with government support and others as a separate initiative.

In Latin America, some countries decided to follow international examples and introduce bills to facilitate girls' access to menstrual products in their territory. Peru, Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia have congressmen approving the projects, which until now has only been approved in Peru. And before the gratuity, countries like Colombia and Argentina were already giving free products to women in low-income spaces, and some states - such as Tucumán in Argentina - approved their own projects to guarantee the gratuity.

These steps are important and now, as a society, we must be attentive to the implementation of the programs, because ending the poverty of the period must be a global priority. Girls shouldn't miss or even drop out of school because they can't afford proper period care, something they can't control. Menstruation is a natural process, education to end the shame that comes with having it, and strategies to ensure proper hygiene is necessary to provide better living conditions for women and trans men.

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