Tackling Period Poverty: Taboo, Tax and Tribulation
All women have experienced a period emergency or leak at some point in their lives, reaching for toilet roll as a saving grace.
For a shockingly large number of women, it’s not just a matter of inconvenience.
Period poverty is not a new issue. Women have been resorting to D.I.Y. sanitary products for years. However, the issue is gaining traction with thanks to petitions, campaigns and revealing anecdotes from women who live with these conditions every month.
This is reality for too many. Mothers are choosing to forgo adequate sanitary products to feed their families. Young girls are too embarrassed to approach their mothers or teachers, so try and cope on their own. Homeless women not only have no access to sufficient care but also lack the privacy and sanctuary to care for themselves.
This is not only traumatic but potentially dangerous as it risks Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Some groups are blaming the hotly discussed ‘tampon tax’ for the continuation of this ordeal. Whilst it is clear that sanitary products are not "luxury" items - as many supermarkets announce they will offset the tax for their products - the issue is still rife.
VAT on sanitary products is a marketable story that introduces people across the world to a much deeper underlying concern. However, a 5% tax rebate is not going to solve the problem of taboo nor affordability. Women are still facing the ultimatum of food for their children or tampons and really there is no choice at all.
The Scottish government is going one step further by piloting a six-month scheme providing low income women in Aberdeen with free sanitary products. The scheme is being run by the Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) and aims to reach over 1,000 women in the city's seven regeneration areas.
As sceptics question if this is the correct tactic, there is still a long way to go to deal with the period taboo in schools and amongst young people. Scottish MSP Monica Lennon is hoping to see free sanitary products as a statutory requirement and some councils are beginning to roll out free dispensers in schools, colleges and universities.
A more sustainable alternative for disposable sanitary products is now being encouraged to save women money longer term. Whilst most women use tampons or sanitary pads, menstrual cups and washable pads can be used repeatedly which would save women devoting additional budget to their periods.
Menstrual Cups can last up to 10 years
Other campaigns are also being set up by individuals concerned about period poverty.
As it stands, no campaign is fixing the problem in its entirety. Each and every one, however, is bringing this important topic to light by encouraging women and men to discuss periods and the impact they can have on women’s lives each month. Progress is being made, but there is a long way to go.
Grace & Green is a revolutionary new hygiene company providing women with ethical, safe and effective solutions for their periods. We launch in Autumn 2017 – join the movement now and go into the draw to win a year’s worth of organic period products.
Written by Nicola Telford for Grace & Green
Edited by Skye Rytenskild
All Images Free for Distribution Via Creative Commons Licensing