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The Reality About Period Poverty

Cartoon illustration of two parents holding their daughter’s hands

For all the women reading this, let’s take a bit of a journey back in time—back to the day when you had your first period. How was that experience? Did you go into it with the information that you needed or did you just learn as you went along? Were you reassured that it was a perfectly normal thing and nothing to be ashamed of or was it more of a troubling journey?

If you ever have memories of confusion, shame, maybe even a lack of the period products that you needed, then you have, for yourself, already experienced a form of Period Poverty. An auxiliary problem that perpetuates Period Poverty is how general society has somehow accepted this as the norm. On a global scale, the problem can be a lot worse with negative impacts on women’s health and well-being.

Here at The Brand Hannah, we believe that every woman deserves to have the tools and education to manage their periods conveniently, hygienically, and with dignity. Working towards a solution for Period Poverty is just one of the steps that we can take as a society towards giving women all over the world a better life.

In this article, we’ll let you in on what Period Poverty is, how it manifests all over the world, and how we can work together to alleviate and eventually end this issue. So let’s get started!

An empty classroom

The Two Main Pillars of Period Poverty

Let’s take a look at the main pillars of Period Poverty, some of their manifestations, and their implications.

1. Poor Access to Menstrual Hygiene Tools

Women of all ages around the world deserve to have convenient access to sanitary products, washing facilities, clean water, and proper waste management. On one side of the equation, you can think of settings like schools, summer camps, offices, and public places. While these places are probably what popped into your mind initially, we also have to consider places like refugee camps, prisons, mental hospitals, and so on.

Wherever women may be or where they frequent, the tools to manage their periods in a hygienic and convenient way should be in place. But if you look around, this is not necessarily the case. Although period products are just as essential as toilet paper, they are not readily available in most public bathrooms everywhere in the world. Additionally, some less undeveloped areas don’t have access to clean water to support good feminine hygiene.

As if the limited accessibility to menstrual hygiene tools wasn’t bad enough, some governments are even putting an extra tax on period products, making it more difficult for some women to acquire these products because of the raised price. To compensate for this, some women resort to using disposable period products for longer periods of time than what’s recommended or healthy.

The implications of the inaccessibility to menstrual hygiene tools can lead to health issues like toxic shock syndrome, bacterial and fungal infections, and so on.

2. Inadequate Education and Information on Menstruation

This pillar is almost like the chicken and the egg scenario. Does the lack of education and information on this subject give rise to shame and taboo? Or is it because of the shame and taboo surrounding menstruation that countries all over the world have failed in giving young girls an effective understanding of their periods?

In some parts of the world, as many as 2 out of 3 girls cannot attend school because of their periods. In countries like Nepal, women even face a social sanction which involves them being banished to mud huts or sheds during their period because they are believed to bring bad luck to their families if kept at home. In impoverished areas in Africa, women sometimes have to resort to using dirty rags during their periods because they do not have access to hygienic period products or an understanding that this practice can cause infections.

All in all, the lack of information and education on this subject perpetuates problems like shame, stigma, discrimination, and poor hygiene, resulting in negative impacts on both the health and well-being of the women affected.

Who Is Highly Impacted by Period Poverty?

Looking at the examples of Period Poverty in the previous section, you can tell that the most impacted groups for this issue are young girls and women living below the poverty line and/or those living in countries where there is a stigma attached to menstruation.

However, even in developed countries, Period Poverty can still be a problem for students and homeless women and girls.

Close up of three women’s torsos posed together in their underwear and hannahpads

Is Period Poverty a Problem in Canada?

What about in Canada? Could Period Poverty still be a problem? Unfortunately, Canada still has manifestations of Period Poverty, including:

  • The continuing stigma towards menstruation
  • The lack of easily accessible period products in some schools and public places
  • The inadequate education for young girls in some areas of the country
  • The financial inequity low-income women, marginalized women, homeless women, and women on social assistance face to purchase menstrual hygiene products

The good news, however, is that efforts have been made and are continuing to be made to address these problems. Not long ago, the Tampon Tax in Canada was lifted. Today, non-profit organizations all over the world are joining the fight and are petitioning for free, universal access to menstrual products in schools and public facilities.

Additionally, since reusable cotton pads can be a sustainable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly solution to help end this problem, Hannahpad has developed a giveback program to pitch in on the efforts to help end Period Poverty.

Mamas for Mamas Giveback Program

The Brand Hannah is joining in on the fight through our collaboration with the social giveback program, Mamas for Mamas. This charitable organization supports mothers who are in crisis, providing them with the ongoing support they need to overcome financial barriers. Support this initiative through our two special hannahpad bundles. Every purchase made will equal a donation to women in need.

Let’s help end Period Poverty one woman at a time!

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