August 17, 2021
By Mia Krejci
Menstruation is as crucial to our existence as breathing, and yet for so many it can be the most dreaded time of the month. Around the world, millions of people who menstruate continue to face stigma, exclusion and discrimination. Especially those who are financially challenged or live in low-income countries, have limited access to menstrual health, which prevents them from participating in daily activities, getting an education, or earning an income. This must end! Here are 3 steps we can all take to tackle this crisis and end period poverty together.
But first, what exactly is period poverty?
Period poverty is a global issue and especially affects people in low-income countries, people in conflict zones, black people, people of colour, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, the homeless, people with special needs, and students.
People who face period poverty are caught in an ongoing dependency spiral:
And here’s how we can break this spiral and end period poverty together:
1. Breaking the Taboo & encouraging open discussions about menstruation
Taboos, myths, & shame around menstruation make people feel uncomfortable talking about their periods leading to e.g. more than half of the adolescent girls (age 10-19) in India not even having heard about menstruation before their 1st period!
Breaking the taboo and normalising menstruation is key to a future of period equity (=equal access to period products & menstrual health). Educational programs & schools must provide unbiased information about menstruation and create a safe space for everyone – students who menstruate as well as students who do not menstruate – to talk about periods.
What you can do:
Speak openly and shamelessly about menstruation. Make people feel comfortable and safe, answer questions, share information and experiences, and include people who don’t have periods in the conversation!
Grace & Green has launched a schools and university period initiative. Find out more about how to get involved here. And here are some charities you can support to help end period poverty:
2. Making period products affordable
Especially in low-income countries, people can’t afford period products so they often use unclean methods such as leaves, newspapers, tissues, sponges, sand, ashes, etc. to absorb their menstrual flow. This brings serious health issues and limited freedom of movement, resulting in millions of girls dropping out of school every year.
Period products should be tax-free and affordable for everyone. Initiatives and schools must provide private washing facilities and distribute free period products to people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. With our Work Initiative we encourage businesses to provide free Grace & Green period products for employees to promote inclusion and equality in the workplace. We have also provided period products to our staff during this unprecedented health crisis and delivered free period products to the NHS trusts.
What you can do:
Buy from companies such as Grace & Green that take action against period poverty. You can also donate period products to local shelters, sign petitions, share information and join movements against period poverty (online & protests). Feel free to take a look at the organisations we work with and our social impact.
3. Offering a variety of period products
Lack of choice can prevent people from using period products. For example, distributing period products like e.g. menstrual cups in countries where people don’t have the means to clean them properly or may not feel comfortable with vaginal insertion, can be problematic.
When offering period products, it’s important to provide different options that consider personal preferences, culture, tradition, and local infrastructures like washing facilities and waste management. It’s also important to inform people about the different options available and how to use and clean them properly so they can make their own conscious decisions. Grace & Green offers a variety of period products to choose from (tampons, pads, and liners made from organic cotton plus the period cup) and informs about the benefits of each of the options. We also offer a Subscription Service which delivers bespoke boxes of period products to people’s homes which has been particularly helpful during the corona lockdown.
What you can do:
While respecting people’s individual choices and the environment, it’s important to know that there is no such thing as the perfect period product. Some swear by the period cup, others prefer period underwear or single-use organic cotton tampons/pads. Keep curious, share your personal experiences about period products, and inform others about more sustainable options while considering and respecting their personal choices.
To end period poverty we need to a) talk openly about menstruation so we can normalise our periods, debunk myths and end the stigma around menstruation b) make menstrual health & period products available for everyone by providing free access and c) inform and provide different sustainable options of period products while considering others’ personal choices.
Let’s start today because our goal is period equity:
Equal Access to period products & menstrual health for everyone ➜ Heath & Freedom of movement ➜ School & job opportunities ➜ financial independence ➜ Equal access to period products & menstrual health for everyone
Spread the word, we’re in this together!