“Another great day of going to school!” you think to yourself, jumping out of bed excitedly. Then you realize…you can’t go. You have to sit at home, isolated, disgusted, and miss out on another day of school. Starving, you realize you’re out of clean water, clean sanitation and have to sit in one place until it’s all over. All you want to do is just go out, go to school, eat food, talk to your friends and live the limited life you have. But that isn’t possible. At least not if you’re a girl living under period poverty.
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.
A factor that increases the risk of period poverty is the stigma, the “taboo”, around it. Some cultural and religious norms dictate menstruation as something related to evil spirits with a side of tons of shame and lots of embarrassment to add that finishing touch. Due to this, some women bury their cloths used during menstruation to free them from evil spirits, after all that’s what they’ve been told to do.
As a menstruator, how many times have you had to hide your pads in the bathroom at school? How many times have you been afraid to tell your father or brother to buy you pads as you’re unable to go purchase them? How many times have you panicked about not having any pads at school and had to use the unsanitary tissues to resolve the problem due to the lack of free sanitary pads at school? How many of you have had to teach yourselves about menstrual hygiene because your guardians found it too embarrassing to teach you themselves? All of these factors contribute to the problems menstruators face on a fairly regular basis.
“Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health,” Sanjay Wijesekera, former UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene said.
Let’s talk stats (Geng, Caitlin):
- An estimated 500 million menstruators lack access to clean hygiene facilities and menstrual products
- A survey on college-aged menstruators reported that 14.2% had experience period poverty in the past year, 10% experienced it almost every month
- Research shows that 2/3 of menstruators in the U.S., who have low incomes could not afford menstrual products on a weekly basis, some had to choose between satisfying hunger or menstrual products.
- Several US states, India, Africa, Canada, Australia and many European countries still tax menstrual products
- 10% of all 14-21 year olds in the UK cannot afford menstrual products, 15% struggle to afford it, 19% had to improvise and sufficed to worse quality, unsanitary products. (Fronde, Neill)
Thailand taxes 30% off tampons as they are classified are, being classified as cosmetics (Wattanasukchai, Sirinya)
In Thailand, women are silenced by men in power regarding decisions of period poverty. An event where the tampon tax in 2019 was debunked as fake news by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha showed the irony of how debunking such news is more important than addressing the real problem — how the price of tampons affects women’s everyday lives, especially underprivileged women. With the effect of COVID-19, products became scarce and prices started going up, directly affecting the hygiene of people living in poverty and essentially becoming prone to COVID-19.
As a concerned menstruator, who sees these problems everyday, hears about it everyday and believes that humanity has the capacity to fix this problem; I have set out to fundraise, advocate for and provide the proper menstrual education for menstruators living under period poverty.
Individuals living in poverty are not aware of the serious medical consequences associated with not having menstrual education, we need to fix this.
At KIS, you can donate to Bloom. It is a club organized and formed that addresses these issues. Every donation contributes to changing the lives of multiple individuals in Thailand.
Period poverty makes individuals lose more dignity, gain more shame and force them into using unsafe products, do not feed into this problem and be the solution instead.
Fronde, Neill. “Tampons Reclassified as Cosmetics Bringing Regulation, Tax.” Thaiger, 23 July 2021, thethaiger.com/news/national/tampons-reclassified-as-cosmetics-bringing-regulation-tax.
Geng, Caitlin. “What Is Period Poverty?” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 16 Sept. 2021, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/period-poverty#what-is-it. Accessed 30 Oct. 2021.
Wattanasukchai, Sirinya. “‘Period Poverty’ Is the Hard Truth, Not Fake News.” Bangkok Post, 21 Dec. 2019, http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1820154/period-poverty-is-the-hard-truth-not-fake-news. Accessed 30 Oct. 2021.