Period Poverty

Poverty is when people are in straitened circumstances of being very poor. This is a global issue which effects so many people no matter what their geographical location, gender or age is. I am going to focus on period poverty and how this effects so many females world wide. Sanitary products are a basic essential which every woman is entitled to, but unfortunately not all women are able to afford these. This is a very current issue that doesn’t seem to be decreasing.

Plan International UK are a charitable organisation that stand up for female human rights. In December 2017 Plan International UK gathered research and statistics on period poverty and the stigma which surrounds it.

  • 1 in 10 girls (10%) have been unable to afford sanitary products
  • 1 in 7 girls (15%) have struggled to afford sanitary products
  • 1 in 7 girls (14%) have had to ask to borrow sanitary products from a friend due to affordability issues
  • More than 1 in 10 girls (12%) has had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues
  • 1 in 5 (19%) of girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost
  • Nearly half (48%) of girls aged 14-21 in the UK are embarrassed by their periods
  • 1 in 7 (14%t) girls admitted that they did not know what was happening when they started their period and more than a quarter (26%) reported that they did not know what to do when they started their period
  • 1 in 5 (22%) girls feel comfortable discussing their period with their teacher
  • Almost three quarters (71%) of girls admitted that they have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products
  • 1 in 10 had been asked not to talk about their periods front of their mother (12%) or father (11%)
  • 49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period, of which 59% have made up a lie or an alternate excuse
  • 64% of girls have missed a PE or sport because of their period, of which 52% of girls have made up a lie or excuse

Plan International UKThese statistics show the reality in period poverty in the UK. This is a technique that can be used in campaigns to show the realism in the issue. People may not understand to what extent some women suffer so by using facts helps to put it in to perspective for the audience.

The conversation reflected on Plan International UK’s gathering of statistics. They discussed how when these statistics were released, many people didn’t believe how people couldn’t afford sanitary products. Although the average spend for a months supple of sanitary products are £10. Lot’s of people, especially young people struggle to gather the money for these products. Therefore, this stops them being able to carry on with their daily routine. This is why I think it’s such an important issue, as this is a natural cause which is having a knock on effect to education, health, dignity and participation due poverty.

The article by the BBC “I steal every time I get my period” shows what a necessity it is to have a supply of sanitary products, and the lengths that some people have to go to get hold of them. It shows how in need homeless and vulnerable women are and illustrates what organisations are being set up to help. A group Homeless Period Southampton set up so they could help by collected sanitary products to give to homeless people to decrease shoplifting. Bloody Good Period are also an origination who aim to help giving menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees & those who can’t afford them. They state on their website that “Many living in poverty resort to using toilet paper, old scraps of fabric or nothing at all.” These are not sufficient materials that should be used as they can raise health risks. By them encouraging donations can help to give someone in need the right sanitary product. There has been a rise in food banks due to the rise in people sleeping on the streets. But through the use of food banks, it has led to people donating hygiene products to try and fight period poverty. Although, there is still a big disgrace associated with menstruation and especially if they can’t afford sanitary products.

Tampon Tax has raised a wide number of debates, with the aim to try and abolish tax on these products. From researching into the tampon tax it is clear that there has been a cut on tampon tax, as it was 10% then cut to 8% then rose to 15% and 17.5% and now reduced to 5%. The average lifetime spend on sanitary products are £1,588.29 and £75.63 of that is VAT. Although, there is still the debate of whether they should be free or be VAT free. I do not see the reason to add tax on a basic necessity, due to this millions of females  worldwide are forced to struggle without. I want to explore the topic of period poverty further to try and visually communicate the issue and reduce the stigma around periods.


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