At a young age, girls in India and many other countries begin to observe the social restrictions placed on them by a society that inhibit them from attending school. They are prohibited from touching food or water while menstruating and bathing. They can’t participate in religious rituals. Many also bear the physical and mental burden of keeping themselves away from their families for days on end, with no company other than a rag-tag group of strangers they call friends. Safe menstrual hygiene management is not only a human right issue, but this situation also burdens women with immense financial costs. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF and Procter & Gamble in 2015, an estimated 1 in 4 girls in India drop out of school due to lack of access to menstrual hygiene products. Not going to school keeps young girls from getting an education that could help them change their circumstances. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty that forces many women and girls around the world to drop their dreams.
Period poverty' i.e. the significant lack of access to affordable sanitary products is nothing but a silent killer of girls and women. When it comes to periods, people are not comfortable talking about it yet due to many social taboos surrounding them. The government has foreseen the condition of women and their ability to purchase sanitary pads during a month, therefore, they provide economical pads for those who are in need so that the situation doesn’t get worse.Period poverty is understood as the inability to afford sanitary hygiene products while purchasing other basic needs such as food throughout the month or going to school or work.
Period poverty and stigma seem like a simple problem. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, because “periods are a natural experience in life”. Menstruation is a natural process in pregnancy and is the shedding of the uterine lining at the end of the menstrual cycle. Many women do not know about their bodies and therefore are uncomfortable with what they should do when having their periods. Period poverty is more than just bleeding through your clothes and hoping you don’t have any accidents. Where I live in Togo, a lot of girls miss school or drop out because they can’t afford the expense of pads, which can be three times the cost of other necessities like food and water. Many families don’t even discuss it with their children, so young girls start their periods and don’t know what’s happening to them and there are no resources.
The good news is that this is a solvable problem. Everyone all over the world can help support women and girls through menstrual health management education, advocacy, and donations. There are still some places in the world where menstrual health management is completely absent. And even those who get taught about it may have a hard time affording sanitary pads and other menstrual resources due to poverty. The fact is that menstruation has become a taboo topic in many parts of the world, and this silence around it surrounds it with stigma. This must change.