World Menstrual Health Day – It’s Time For Action on Period Poverty
World Menstrual Health Day
Held on May 28th, World Menstrual Health Day aims to raise awareness of Period Poverty and end the social taboos surrounding menstruation. Here at Babipur we believe that all people who menstruate should be empowered to manage their menstrual health with confidence and free from shame. Together we can achieve this through education, access to safe menstrual products and safe and hygienic spaces to use them.
This is a global effort to improve educational opportunities, health and social status around the world for women, girls and menstruating people. Period poverty, menstrual health and stigma is not just a problem for developing countries, but a desperate call for action to be taken here in the UK too.
Tackling investment in menstrual health
It can be shocking to discover that period products are still not accessible to everyone in the UK. Our supermarket aisles full of period products, and the bathroom cabinet holds a neat stash of reusable menstrual products. How can this availability not represent accessibility? No woman, girl or menstruating person should be kept from realising their full potential simply because they menstruate. So what’s going wrong?
Pandemics don’t put periods on pause
While the whole world has switched to survival mode during the Covid-19 pandemic, issues that are not openly discussed can be pushed to the side-lines. Menstruation and period poverty is being overlooked, leaving those who menstruate in a desperate situation. There are vulnerable women and girls in every society that are facing difficulties accessing menstrual products. People can be too afraid or embarrassed to ask for period products, through lack of affordability to social taboos around menstruation. Many women and girls who depend on free menstrual products at work, school or college now found themselves without. As many as 3 in 10 girls have struggled to access period products during lockdown.
Poverty during the pandemic has risen sharply during the last year with approx. 2.5 million people using a foodbank in the UK. This is up by over 600 thousand from the previous year, after a steady year on year increase (Trussell Trust). With these levels of poverty, women and girls are having to make impossible choices between menstrual products and food. Potentially, tens of thousands of menstruators may be dependent on Foodbanks for period products. The exact figure is hard to estimate. The fear is that the hidden vulnerable – including rough sleepers, refugees, asylum seekers and communities where English isn’t the first language – are being left behind.
School Period Products
The Plan International UK 2017 research on period poverty and stigma in the United Kingdom showed that:
- One in ten girls (10 per cent) can’t afford menstrual products
- More than one in ten girls (12 per cent) has improvised period wear due to affordability issues
- One in five (19%) of girls have changed to a less suitable period product due to cost (with associated health risks)
- 49 per cent of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period (of which 59 per cent have made up a lie or an alternate excuse)
- 64 per cent of girls have missed a PE or sport lesson because of their period (of which 52 per cent of girls have made up a lie or excuse) (Source: Plan International UK)
What’s being done to help?
In 2020 the UK government introduced a period product scheme in England, providing state schools access to free period products. Schools can order period products, including the option of reusable and eco-friendly products through Personnel Hygiene Services Ltd (PHS Group). Schools aren’t charged for the products or delivery.
Despite this government assistance there are still 10,000 primary and secondary schools which haven’t accessed period products through this scheme. The total order value that schools have accessed is 2.8 million, with only approx. half the funding provided for the scheme claimed. Because of this the government has extended the scheme through 2021.
Have the schools in your area claimed their free period products? By encouraging local schools to access this scheme no-one in education should be prevented from accessing period products or missing school because of their period.
There are many incredible charities working both locally, nationally and internationally to help raise awareness and support people in period poverty. Many charities such as the Red Box project have collection boxes at supermarkets where you can leave menstrual products. You can find out more about a wonderful local charity Cylch Coch >HERE< tackling period poverty here in North Wales.
Join the conversation to end the stigma!
Lets all take action in raising awareness and breaking the taboos around menstruation this World Menstrual Health Day. We should all feel proud and empowered by our period, it is a truly natural and healthy part of our lives. We love to hear your thoughts on World Menstrual Health Day; share your pictures and thoughts with our community! Tag @Babipur on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and use #MHDAY2021 and #ItsTimeForAction . Or you can share your pictures with the Babipur community in our Facebook group, Babipur Hangout!