The cost of periods globally
Going without period products
Around the world, at least 500 million girls and women don’t have the essentials they need to manage their period, whether that’s period products or access to a clean toilet. And in places where period products are seen as luxury items, girls and women will often go without, so their families don’t have to cut back on other essential items such as food or school supplies.
For many, coronavirus has also made period products even less affordable. The pandemic has hit livelihoods and household finances while driving up the cost of basic products, through shortages and disrupted supply chains.
‘We couldn’t afford sanitary pads’
“During the pandemic most of us initially failed to get access to sexual and reproductive health services. We couldn’t afford to buy disposable sanitary pads,” says Elinette, 19.
She lives in Zimbabwe, where period poverty has surged during the pandemic, with period products becoming more expensive or harder to get hold of.
In response, we’ve developed a programme that teaches girls how to make reusable sanitary pads, which they can use themselves, give to their family and friends, or sell to earn additional income.
‘These products are a necessity’
In Yalen’s community in Indonesia, the pandemic has made it even harder for people to provide food for their families. And as schools and markets closed, girls faced a new challenge: a shortage of sanitary supplies.
“Normally people think of food or clothing, but menstrual hygiene products are too often neglected,” Yalen explains. That’s why, as part of our coronavirus response, we’ve been distributing dignity kits containing essential items including soap, toothpaste and sanitary pads.
“I do not have the money to buy pads or soap, so I have to rely on my mother,” Yalen says. “These products are a necessity for girls like me.”
BREAKING THE BARRIERS IN THE UK
Period poverty: tackling the ‘toxic trio’
Our research has revealed a toxic trio of period poverty in the UK: the cost of sanitary products, a lack of education about periods, and shame, stigma and taboo.
Now, coronavirus has made the situation even more challenging. More than a third of UK girls have struggled to afford or access period products during the pandemic. That's equivalent to over one million girls in the UK and an increase of a fifth compared to last year.
Worryingly, half of these girls didn’t have enough money to buy period products at all at some point over the past year – while others had to cut back on essential items including food, soap and toothpaste to be able to afford them.
A CULTURE OF SHAME AND SILENCE
“I do feel like there’s a stigma around the topic of periods. If people spoke about periods more without the stigma, it could help a lot of people.” - Jess, 17, UK
Our first-of-its-kind report, Break the Barriers, explores UK girls’ experiences of having their period. It reveals a culture of shame and silence has turned periods into a hidden public health issue – putting girls' physical, sexual and mental health at risk.
Campaign success for our period emoji!
In 2017, we ran a survey – and discovered just how much shame and stigma still impact girls’ and women’s experiences of having their period.
It was the starting point for our period emoji campaign and, thanks to your incredible support, our blood drop design, developed in partnership with NHS Blood, is now appearing on phones everywhere.
That means people will be able to talk about periods using one of the fastest growing global languages, helping to tackle the taboos still associated with getting your period around the world.
A few essential items can transform how a girl manages her period.
The blood drop emoji is appearing on phones everywhere. This is why it matters.
Why education is critical in solving the toxic trio of period poverty.
There’s a hidden health story surrounding periods that we can’t afford to ignore.