When we hear terms like ‘poverty’, our initial reaction is to think of the charity appeals that we see on TV for those in developing countries. We wrongly assume that poverty cannot happen in a country like the UK – but it does. Period poverty is one issue that is gaining widespread attention as we talk more about wellbeing and women’s health. We are taking an in-depth look at what period poverty is and how you can help thousands of women and girls across the UK.
What is period poverty?
Could you imagine going through your period without access to sanitary products or without the pain relief you need to go to work? That’s the reality for thousands of women in the United Kingdom. A survey by Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 girls have been unable to afford to buy sanitary products.
Period poverty is a particular issue for young women, with almost 140,000 girls missing school days every year as a result. The Nursing Standard reported in 2017 that school nurses are frequently purchasing sanitary products for pupils.
There’s no denying the link between period poverty and girls missing out on education. 49% of girls have missed a school day due to their period. While this is not unusual, the issue is the financial inequality that prevents girls from having the essentials they need – like sanitary products and pain relief – to go about their daily lives.
40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll as a makeshift period pad because they couldn’t afford proper sanitary products, according to In Kind Direct.
The pandemic has seen a spike in period poverty in the UK as more people turned to food banks to deal with financial difficulties brought on by lockdown. The Guardian reports that charities are now supplying six times more menstrual products than they did before the pandemic.
What you can do to prevent period poverty
If you’re someone who has a period, you know how difficult those few days can be every month. Every person deserves to have dignity and proper menstrual health. The rise of high-profile campaigns has seen significant action towards ending period poverty, but there is more that we can do.
In 2019, menstruation products were made available for free in England for primary and secondary school students. When the pandemic closed schools, this vital lifeline was lost. Plan International UK carried out a survey during the pandemic that found that one-third of girls aged 14 to 21 struggled to afford or access sanitary products during lockdown.
Food banks and charities require more donations of menstrual products than ever before. The next time you’re picking up your monthly essentials, add a few extras to your shopping cart and drop them off at your local women’s charity or food bank.
At Doctor A Cosmetics, we work in partnership with Hey Girls through our founder’s charity, Anika Food Charity. They provide essentials like reusable period pants, menstrual cups, washable sanitary pads and sanity pads for our food bank to give to women and young girls in need.
Do you need help with accessing menstrual products?