Every 28 or so days, a period ushers in the start of a menstrual cycle. While for many women this means popping a painkiller and remembering to pack an extra pad, tampon, or reusable menstrual cup while heading out—an overwhelming 20 percent of women in the U.S. alone lack access to these basic period care products. In the student population, close to 23 percent go without appropriate care while menstruating.
Around the world, this number skyrockets to hundreds of millions of people who have to call in sick at work, or skip school, or otherwise hole in at home because they simply cannot afford menstrual hygiene products on their period.
Period poverty is a global challenge, one that requires wider awareness and immediate attention.
What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty occurs when women have limited, or no access to hygienic menstrual products. To get by, women and girls experiencing this poverty will often repeat single-use products like tampons or pads. Other times, they may resort to unhygienic and even unsafe materials like rags or even sawdust to manage their periods.
Because period poverty can result in poor menstrual hygiene, there is an increased risk of contracting a UTI or reproductive infection when unsafe methods are used for managing periods.
Even worse, period poverty is often compounded by the stigma around this natural process. Communities exist where menstruating girls and women are banished to period huts and warned against socializing. They may even be prevented from eating particular foods.
Period poverty is an expensive status quo to maintain. Girls and women around the world bear the high cost of increased health risks, missed classes at school, and reduced access to opportunities for a few days every month of the year. This fact can no longer be downplayed or ignored.
Effects of Period Poverty
The dangers of living in period poverty are multifaceted. For women that reside in areas where even toilet facilities are scarce—there is a high risk of experiencing sexual violence while making use of shared, or poorly guarded amenities.
Students in countries like Kenya have reported having to trade sex in exchange for sanitary pads they otherwise cannot afford.
Wealthy countries like the U.K. have also recorded an alarming 1 in 10 students who miss school because of limited access to sanitary products. This number spikes in the U.S., with around 1 in 4 students missing school because of insufficient period hygiene products.
Beyond the physical and academic toll of period poverty, however, women and girls are also exposed to the mental health challenges of managing periods with limited resources.
These challenges are a mix of shame and embarrassment, which over time can give way to depression and anxiety.
In daily life, the month-to-month strain of period poverty may also affect participation and involvement at school, work, or even routine activities.
What We’re Doing to Help
To contribute towards making period poverty a thing of the past, Cora is joining forces with IPSY. Together, we’ll be donating 200,000 period packs to PERIOD., the nonprofit we can all thank for Period Action Day.
The goal of the day is to end period poverty, especially in the Black and Latinx communities.
On October 9th, Cora will be donating 200,000 period products to make sure women and girls within the Black and Latinx community are properly covered the next time their period courses through.
Team IPSY will contribute 10,000 Glam bags and thousands of beauty products in support of Period Action Day. The Glam Bags will provide period and personal care items, with each containing 10 period supplies and 5 beauty products for a person in need.
How You Can Help
To pull millions of girls and women out of period poverty, every helping hand is welcome. One way you can lend support is to take stock of empty bags, and extra period supplies you might have lying about.
What you recover can make up a period supply kit for a person in need. You can donate these items to a local shelter or food pantry that will make sure a girl, woman, or person menstruating doesn’t have to go without the right supplies.