This challenge extends far beyond the UK. Across the globe, period poverty is denying women and girls the most basic and fundamental of human rights—and the stakes are high. When adolescent girls in rural, resource-poor environments are forced to drop out of school, they risk being trapped in the clutches of poverty and deprivation for generations.
It’s not only that periods can be difficult and expensive to manage. It’s that, despite being part of the lives of half the global population, periods are also difficult to talk about.
In many cultures, there is a deeply entrenched conspiracy of silence around menstruation. According to The Lancet
, a UNICEF study revealed that one in three girls in South Asia had no knowledge of menstruation before their first period, and in Iran, 48% of girls thought periods were a disease. We need better education in schools, for both girls and boys, and we need to teach young people how to speak about periods in empowering language.
Yet, there is hope, and there are solutions. Some countries are implementing bold and progressive measures in their bid to tackle period poverty: Kenya has repealed tax on menstrual products, and in 2018, pledged to distribute pads
to all schoolgirls in its public schools. Kerala, in Southern India, is providing free period protection for schoolgirls in an effort to keep girls in school when they menstruate. Scotland has made history
by being the first country to provide free and universal access to menstrual products in all schools, colleges and universities.