3 Ways We Can End Period Poverty

August 17, 2021

By Mia Krejci

But first, what exactly is period poverty?

Period poverty is the limited access to period products and lack of information about menstruation. Period poverty is a global issue and especially affects people in low-income countries, people in conflict zones, black women, women of colour, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, the homeless, people with special needs, and students.

Periods are as crucial to our existence as breathing yet, yet for so many – especially those who are vulnerable or financially disadvantaged, it can be their most dreaded time of the month. Experiencing this can have a direct impact on health, success, confidence, and happiness. Together we can tackle this crisis.

People who menstruate and have limited access to period products and menstrual health are caught in an ongoing dependency spiral:

And here’s how we can break this spiral and end period poverty together:

Grace and Green - Period Poverty Spiral

And here’s how we can break this spiral and end period poverty together:

1. Encouraging open discussions about menstruation

Problem:
Taboos, myths, and shame around menstruation make people feel uncomfortable talking about their periods, leading, for example, to many adolescents not knowing what to do when they get their first period, or people without periods generally not knowing about menstruation.

Solution:
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 students who menstruate as well as students who do not menstruate to talk about periods. Grace & Green have launched a schools and university period initiative. Find out more about how to get involved here.

What you can do:
Speak openly and shamelessly about menstruation. Make people feel comfortable and safe, answer questions, share information and experiences, and also include people who don’t have periods in the conversation! Here are some charities you can support to help end period poverty:

2. Making period products affordable

Problem:
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. (Source: UNICEF)

Solution:
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 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). Take a look at the organisations we work with and our social impact.

3. Offering a variety of period products

Problem:
Lack of choice can prevent people from using period products. Also, events like the coronavirus lockdown revealed an over-reliance on schools and shops for period products. Countries, e.g. India, where girls rely on schools for free period products experienced a “pad crisis” as schools were shut down. Source: BBC

Solution:
When providing period products, it’s important to offer different options that consider personal preferences, cultures, traditions, and local infrastructures like washing facilities/waste management. It’s also important to inform people about the different options out there and about how to use them because this empowers people to make their own conscious choices. Grace & Green offers a variety of period products to choose from (tampons, pads, and liners made from organic cotton and 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, 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. Be curious and respect everyone’s individual choice, inform others about sustainable period products and e.g. send a bespoke Grace & Green box to someone in need.

In conclusion: 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 and period products available for everyone by providing free access to period products and c) consider people’s personal choices, inform about and provide different sustainable options of period products.

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!