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Economic crisis in Lebanon making period products unaffordable for majority of women and girls

Economic crisis in Lebanon making period products unaffordable for majority of women and girls

Video (Arabic with English subtitles) available for download here

Three quarters (76%) of women and girls residing in Lebanon are struggling to afford menstrual products amidst the country’s economic crisis, according to new research conducted by global children’s charity Plan International and feminist collective Fe-Male.

The study is the largest ever conducted on period poverty in Lebanon, and includes women and girls from Palestinian and Syrian communities. It reveals that more than two in five (42%) women and girls in the country have had to reduce the number of period pads they use each month or use the same pad for longer than usual in order to reduce the overall cost of their period. These changes in behaviour follow the sharp increase in the price of everyday items across the country.

The inability to adequately manage their period is causing nearly half (43%) of women and girls in Lebanon to suffer from anxiety and stress.

A schoolgirl said:

“I miss school a few days each month because I don’t have pads to use during my period, my family can’t afford them, so my mom taught me how to replace them with a piece of cloth.”

A young mother said:

“I don’t have enough money to buy pads, I prefer to get food for my baby, so I always put a piece of cloth over my underwear instead of using sanitary pads, and this gave me a lot of health problems”.

Plan International Lebanon and Fe-Male have launched a new campaign, “#Nashftolna_dammna” (you drained us of our blood), to raise awareness of how widespread period poverty is in Lebanon and its negative impact on women and girls. The campaign also stresses the importance of finding long-term solutions to ensure that women and girls can afford and access the period products they need.

Alia Awada, Co-Director of Fe-Male, said:

“All too often, the needs and rights of women and girls become secondary when a crisis occurs. As Lebanon is sinking deeper and deeper into an economic and political crisis, women’s basic needs are not being met, and their mental and physical health is overlooked.

“The inability to afford or access period products negatively impacts women’s dignity and safety, and leads to a hightened sense of insecurity during their period.

“Period poverty is a reality in Lebanon. The Lebanese government and key stakeholders must take action to ensure that every women and girl in Lebanon is able to access the period products they need.”

Lama Naja, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Programmes Manager at Plan International Lebanon, said:

“The deteriorating situation in Lebanon and its negative impact on adolescent girls and women is a big concern for Plan International, especially with the increasing number of women and girls who are using unsafe alternatives to period products, or using them for longer than recommended in order to reduce the overall cost."

“This poses a real threat to the sexual and reproductive rights and health of adolescent girls and women. Menstruation is not an option but a biological reality, and access to the products necessary for the management of the menstrual cycle is a human right.”