Period poverty is defined as the “lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.” Many people especially in developed countries often believe that period poverty is not an issue because they believe it does not occur. This is clearly a biased opinion which further leads to the marginalization of impoverished women because this issue is so overlooked. Many women who are unable to afford these products, or unable to allocate money towards it, often reuse products or use alternate forms such as rags, clothes, toilet paper etc. For this reason period poverty has become a major health crisis as sanitation is sub par and often leads to health problems for these women.
Canadian women spend about $6000.00 in their lifetime on menstrual products. Approximately a third of women under the age of 25 have struggled to allocate money for these essential items. Especially in indigenous communities these products are even more expensive due to lack of access which further exacerbates the problem and it often linked with food insecurity and access to clean water.
There are now many movements to have period products be free in public spaces such as schools and public restrooms. Although we are still striving towards more equity, we are slowly making progress such as removing the “pink tax” in Canada.
Products that you may have always had growing up in your home may not be the reality for many impoverished women. Items such as pads, tampons, body wash, hair products, make up remover etc. are crucial items for people who cannot afford them. Although they may be expensive to donate they are a very generous, thoughtful donation and may prevent health problems for many women. Many donation sites often lack these items and donating them would help women in need greatly.
For so long women have been taught to be ashamed of their periods and their bodies, and in order to destigmatize we must speak out and donate to help those in need.