Put a FULL STOP to period poverty.
strugglING every month
Did you know that many girls and women struggle every month during their periods?
All those who menstruate, wherever they live, experience challenges when managing their period. These might include a lack of products, toilets or disposal facilities, enduring pain, being bullied or being restricted from activities and locations. In high-income countries, these challenges are often referred to as “period poverty” and in low-middle-income countries as “poor menstrual hygiene management”. But the result is the same: a large proportion of the global population is disadvantaged by having a period.
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, or waste management.
Around the world, women who menstruate may be ostracised from basic activities, like eating certain foods or socializing. The cultural shame attached to menstruation, and a shortage of resources, can stop women from going to school and working every day. The World Bank estimates that 500 million women and girls globally lack access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
ADRA and the Seventh-day Adventist church
ADRA and the Seventh-day Adventist church in Europe are on a mission to put a full stop to period poverty!
Together we want to challenge societal inequity and address period poverty. In March 2023, ADRA Europe and the Trans-European and Inter-European women ministries departments launched the “Full STOP to Period Poverty” initiative. The campaign will inspire people to make washroom facilities “female-friendly”.
The Adventist faith community is invited to take two small but revolutionary steps:
- To make menstrual health products available in restrooms of our spaces, such as ADRA offices, church buildings, schools, universities, church institutions and others.
- To create “female-friendly spots” – spaces where menstrual health products will be free for those who struggle to afford them.
Let’s challenge the shame of period poverty and support girls and women during “those days”. Probably we will not solve the complex issue, but it’s a start. And we need to start with ourselves first. Now is an excellent time to open the doors to the fullness of life for all human beings, including women. 😊
What are some additional steps for “enthusiastic changemakers”:
- Educate and talk about menstruation. The more we understand this natural biological process, the less afraid we will be of menstrual blood. The more we talk about it, the less the “taboo” will be around it. Remember: we were all born because our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers… had periods. 😊
- Advocate for making menstrual products affordable, for example, by removing the “tampon tax” or providing free products in schools and through food banks. Most programmes that distribute free menstrual products in high-income countries provide disposable pads or tampons, while in low-middle-income countries, disposable or reusable pads are preferred over tampons. Free and cheaper products are necessary for some situations and can manage short-term issues.
- Partner with local communities to identify why menstruators cannot manage their periods hygienically and with dignity. Researchers implemented a pilot of this method in Uganda. The local community reacted positively. Local champions worked with researchers and practitioners to dismantle menstrual taboos in the broader society and create sustainable solutions. This was achieved by educating men, women, boys and girls about menstruation and providing access to a range of locally-made and affordable menstrual products.
- Fundraise and collect funds that support women and girls that struggle. Get inspired by Christian Hull (video link: https://www.sharethedignity.org.au/fundraisers/christianhull/christian-hull–s-birthday)
- The last idea is for SUPER ENTHUSIASTS: BECOME A RESEARCHER in programmes directed towards evidence-based solutions – which will likely involve more than just supplying girls with pads. Understanding and addressing the root causes of period poverty is the only thing that will allow us to move towards a period-positive environment for everyone who menstruates.
TEN key facts on menstruation
- On average, a woman menstruates for the equivalent of seven years of days during her lifetime.
- In their lifetime, the average menstruating person uses almost 17.000 tampons or pads.
- The first period can be met with either celebration, fear or concern. For every girl, this signifies an essential transition to womanhood – a time when they would benefit from the support of family and friends.
- Many girls do not have a complete and accurate understanding of menstruation as a normal biological process. Educating girls before their first period — and, importantly, boys — on menstruation builds their confidence, contributes to social solidarity and encourages healthy habits. Such information should be provided at home and school.
- Poor menstrual hygiene can pose physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections. Many girls and women have limited options for affordable menstrual materials. Providing access to private facilities with water and safer low-cost menstrual materials could reduce urogenital diseases.
- Girls and women with disabilities and special needs face additional challenges with menstrual hygiene. They are affected disproportionately by the lack of access to toilets with water and materials to manage their periods;
- Many women and girls cannot access materials to manage their menstruation, especially in an emergency — natural disasters and conflicts. In emergencies, ADRA provides dignity kits to women and girls.
- Globally, 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation services, and in the least Developed Countries, only 27 per cent of the population has a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. Managing periods is a significant challenge for women and adolescent girls who lack these basic facilities at home.
- About half of the schools in low-income countries lack adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for girls and female teachers to manage their periods. Inadequate facilities can affect girls’ experience at school, causing them to miss school during their periods. All schools should provide running water and safe and clean toilets for adolescent girls.
- Menstrual Health conditions vary widely from country to country, but there is a significant need worldwide. Approximately one-fourth of the people on our planet are women of reproductive age — that is, menstruators, or people who have periods. Nearly 25% of all menstruators experience period poverty, meaning they do not have what they need to manage their periods. That’s over 500 million people every month.
More about period poverty from similar organisations:
Free resources by WaterAid, WSUP, and Unicef: https://washmatters.wateraid.org/sites/g/files/jkxoof256/files/female-friendly-public-and-community-toilets-a-guide.pdf
UNICEF: Menstruation is stigmatised all over the world. (link: https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/fast-facts-nine-things-you-didnt-know-about-menstruation)
World economic forum: (link 1; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/international-womens-day-period-poverty-financial-burden-how-retailers-can-help/ and link 2: : https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/long-way-to-end-period-poverty)
Open access government: Link https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/period-poverty-women/59547/ Sian Walkling, Marketing Manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene, discusses the need to tackle period poverty by creating a comfortable and dignified washroom for women. Bristol became the first UK city to host a ‘period poverty summit’ in late January 2019 to tackle the country’s ongoing, increasingly high-profile battle to ensure women across the country can afford and have access to basic sanitary products. It is estimated that 137,000 girls miss at least one day of school per year in the UK due to cost or a lack of access to sanitary products.
Share the dignity: https://www.sharethedignity.org.au/
The first global period poverty forum took place, and another will take place soon: https://www.sharethedignity.org.au/global-period-poverty-forum
… and many more.
 Source UNICEF: Menstruation is stigmatized all over the world. (link: https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/fast-facts-nine-things-you-didnt-know-about-menstruation)