When people hear the word period poverty — they often think of some third world country across the ocean.
Somewhere miles away from them.
But period poverty exists closer to home than that. It plagues more developed regions as well. The UK for example has more than 137,700 girls who missed school because of a lack of period products.
And it’s right here in the United States.
In your city.
Period poverty is not an issue that the U.S. is free of.
1 in 5 girls has missed school because of a lack of period protection.
Why Is Period Poverty A Big Deal?
You may think that missing a few days here and there because of your period isn’t so bad, but when you start to add those days up?
It becomes a lot.
If women and girls can’t go about their normal lives, they miss out on important opportunities.
At their job.
Missing three or more days every month will start to wane on anyone. Girls start to struggle in class because of the things they have missed. Their education suffers.
Women struggle to keep up with work. Anyone who’s held a job knows the pressure of showing up every day; that missing too much work can cost you your job.
Women who are unable to afford period products find alternative ways to catch the blood.
Items from old shirts and socks to things such as newspapers have been used. Not only are these options unhygienic, but they can cause other problems as well.
Poor period hygiene can lead to:
- Urinary tract infections
- Yeast infections
- Hepatitis B infection
- An increased risk of cervical cancer
We may not be able to completely irradicate these issues, but having access to sanitary products would be a good start.
What Does Period Poverty Look Like?
The second image people usually get when they think of period poverty is that of someone who is homeless. We get a general picture in our minds and stop there. We don’t think about the people we may have seen on the street.
We often overlook the homeless or other people in need.
We don’t see them.
We don’t offer help.
We like to think of poverty affecting third world countries and not being in our own hometowns.
But period poverty doesn’t just affect homeless people. It affects our friends and family. People we know.
The sad truth is that 1 in 4 women struggle to buy period products.
And this was before we were hit with a global pandemic.
The numbers are likely to be even higher now as people struggle to make ends meet.
More women than men live in poverty and yet tampons are still not labeled a necessity.
This means that they can’t be purchased using food stamps, Medicaid, or even an HSA (health savings account). Period products are even still taxed as a luxury item in 30+ states.
Period products are not a luxury item.
Women need these products. Viagra isn’t taxed, but period products are? And that makes sense to people? (But that’s a topic for another time.)
3 Things You Can Do To Help
Given the overwhelming problem with period poverty, it may seem like you can’t do anything about it. That it’s just too big of a problem to solve.
But that’s not true.
Here are 3 easy ways you can help in your local community and have an impact across the country too:
This is the simplest thing you can do.
A quick search online can tell you where shelters are in your area.
Going to their website will give you more information on how to get your donation to them.
Chances are — if you can find a shelter, they need volunteers.
Volunteering is a great way to be more involved in the giving back process!
You have a direct impact on your local community.
3. Buy Products That Donate
Want to make your products go that extra mile?
Certain brands out there either match your purchase of their products or donate a certain percentage.
This means when you buy — you’re also giving to someone else in need.
Donating products like these to your local shelter is a double whammy of giving!
As Seth Godin said in an interview with Amy Eisenstein —
“There are no comfortable problems left to solve. All we are left with are the uncomfortable ones.”
And talking about periods is uncomfortable for many people.
Periods are something we don’t really like to think about, let alone talk about. But it affects half the world’s population. And every country fights its own stigmas about it.
Period poverty is starting to shift into focus and more people are talking about their periods than ever before. Awareness is always good.
And every little bit helps.
If you’d like to get involved with She Supply and fight period poverty — click the link below to learn more.