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Putting an end to period poverty, shame and taboo.


Putting an end to period poverty, shame and taboo.

Periods. They are simply a part of life. And yet there are so many obstacles to managing them.

Being denied access to toilets is one. Perhaps because a school doesn't allow toilet breaks during lessons. Or because clean water and safe toilets don't exist. 

Being able to afford period products is another. Period poverty exists all over the world and the cost of living crisis has only made this worse. 

And let's not forget period shame, stigma and taboo. It can force those on their period to miss school or be banished from their homes. 

These obstacles mean girls and people who menstruate are missing out. Not just on their right to health, but on taking part fully in all aspects of life. Let’s change that.


of girls in the UK are struggling to afford period products.


girls and women globally don’t have the essentials they need to manage their period.


of girls aged 14-21 in the UK have experienced teasing or bullying around their periods.

Learning about periods: Mary’s story 

“I was 14 years old when I got my first period. I was coming from the market and didn’t know what it was,” recalls 18-year-old Mary from Zambia.  
Mary is not alone. Periods come as a shock to many where comprehensive sexuality education is limited and myths prevail.  
Mary boosted her knowledge through a youth-friendly corner set up by Plan International.  
“I’ve learnt so much about menstrual hygiene and health,” says Mary.   
Even so, managing her periods is not easy.  
“I stay at home from school about three days a month during my period. We don’t have access to water in our home. It is very hard to maintain good hygiene.” 

Mary, 18, from Zambia standing outside smiling at the camera
Mary, 18, from Zambia now knows more about periods but still faces challenges managing hers.

End period poverty and taboo

Donate today and help ensure a safe and equal place for girls.

What is period poverty? 

Period poverty isn’t just about money. It's a ‘toxic trio’ of issues preventing girls from managing their periods as they need to.

What is period poverty?

Period poverty isn’t just about money. It's a ‘toxic trio’ of issues preventing girls from managing their periods as they need to.

1. The cost of period products.

Many struggle to cover the cost of their periods. They may go without products or unsafely improvise with rags or other materials.  

2. The lack of education about periods.

Young people aren’t being taught how the menstrual cycle works. And if you don't understand your body or what a healthy period looks like, you can’t ask for medical help when you need it. 

3. The shame, stigma and taboo about periods.

Girls are made to feel there’s something wrong with their bodies when they have their period. They may withdraw from activities and be denied the chance to enjoy life to the full.  

Tackling the toxic trio

Periods shouldn’t hold girls back. We work with communities and young people around the world to tackle the toxic trio. Especially those living in humanitarian emergencies who face most obstacles.  
Together we help improve access to washing facilities, safe toilets, period products, education and health services. And deliver activities which help bust gender norms and harmful myths about girls and periods.  
We also stand with young people to advocate for change with our research and campaigns – including calling for free period products in England and the Period Proud Wales strategy. 
These activities mean more girls can manage their periods with dignity. They don’t have to improvise with unsafe materials. They don’t feel ashamed. And they don’t have to give up their education or things they love to do.

Sarita and her mother standing outside their home holding a Plan dignity kit
This dignity kit containing sanitary pads helped Sarita and her mother after flooding in Nepal destroyed the family’s farm and income.
Kologo from Mail Kologo from Mali holds up a reusable sanitary pad she made in a workshop
Kologo from Mali holds up a reusable sanitary pad she made in a workshop.

A better period: Kologo’s story

“During my periods, I kept to myself, staying in corners away from crowds, both at school and at home,” explains Kologo from Mali.  
“I used to be so ashamed and scared that the rags I used might fall out.” 
Many girls like Kologo miss school during their period. Some might drop out altogether, forcing them into child marriage and pregnancy before they are ready.  
For Kologo, things changed when she learnt how to make reusable sanitary pads through a Plan International workshop.  
“A lot of us don’t have enough means, so buying pads isn’t possible. Now, I have three sanitary pads that I can interchange and use for years to come.” 

Scarlett’s story

“We've done a lot of topics such as gender equality, period poverty and as such,” says 12-year-old Scarlett from Wales.  

Scarlett took part in a girls’ rights project run by Plan International UK. It involves identifying and addressing challenges in their community. 

"My favourite part was definitely learning about period poverty and the prices of pads, tampons and other sanitary products,” says Scarlett. 
“Finding out ways together that we could find opportunities for girls to get period products for free.  
“Our youth club has started giving out free sanitary products to any women around here, which I think is quite generous."

Scarlett, 12, standing on a footpath in her home town in Wales
Scarlett, 12, from Wales has learnt about gender equality and period poverty.

Busting period silence and taboos 

Busting period silence and taboos

Periods are still seen as something not to talk about. Our Break the Barriers report revealed a culture of stigma and silence around periods in the UK. And it’s the same around the world.  

This means that many girls don’t understand what’s happening when they have their first period, or what to do about it. And they grow up feeling ashamed of their bodies, and themselves. Without that knowledge, girls’ health is at risk.  

There are ways to break the silence. Like the period emoji that we campaigned for. And education that covers the physical, social and practical aspects of periods. So that this everyday event becomes an everyday subject for everyone. 

Dalila, 15, from Guatemala is now comfortable talking about periods and shares her knowledge with her friends.
Dalila, 15, from Guatemala is now comfortable talking about periods and shares her knowledge with her friends.

Dalila’s story

"In my community, menstruation is a topic that is not openly discussed,” explains 15-year-old Dalila from Guatemala. 
“Teenage girls are ashamed to buy items they use during their periods and think that menstruation should be a secret.” 
Dalila started to speak more openly about periods after taking part in a training workshop run by Plan International. 
“I learnt that menstruation is a normal and necessary process. I also learnt that there are lots of myths that exist, for example that during their periods, girls should not play ball or ride a bicycle. 
“I now know that menstruation is not an impediment to my daily life.”  

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