Article From Forbes
Author Alice Broster
Oct 10, 2020
Young people protesting for equal rights while marching in city GETTY
Around the globe stigma attached to periods persist. In some countries that looks like hiding period products up your sleeve when you go to the bathroom or taxing sanitary products as luxury items. In other places, it’s not being able to be in your home or place of worship because menstrual blood is deemed to be dirty. Around 26% of the global population menstruates and damaging misinformation and limited access to hygiene products creates a culture of silence and shame. One non-profit organization is fighting to end period poverty and is making Period Action Day a reality. On Oct. 10 PERIOD are celebrating all of the work and advocacy by youth activists fighting for menstrual justice.
PERIOD is a non-profit organization with a serious goal in mind — to end period poverty and stigma attached to menstruation through providing services, education and advocacy. It’s made up of hundreds of youth chapter members, organizers, and partner companies.
In May 2013, WASH United celebrated the first Menstrual Hygiene Day. They wanted to put a spotlight on the issue of limited access to sanctuary products that affects so many people across the globe. In 2019 PERIOD hosted National Period Day to celebrate the work and progress of youth activists fighting to end period poverty and stigma. There were 60 rallies across 50 states and four countries.
“The result was the largest grassroots mobilization in the history of period activism. Youth activists were united by the Menstrual Movement manifesto — demanding an end to period poverty and stigma,” says PERIOD’s Executive Director, Michela Bedard, “Five presidential candidates publicly endorsed the efforts, showing real progress towards undoing the taboo of menstruation.”
Period poverty can be defined as not having access to safe, hygienic sanitary products or being unable to manage your period with dignity and in 2020 thousands of people go through this every month. Not having access to the products you need doesn’t just have an effect on your physical wellbeing, it can seriously impact your confidence and mental health.
Research conducted by Always found that of the 1,000 women they spoke to 39% said they suffer from anxiety and depression as a direct result of period poverty. “Menstrual justice intersects with a variety of issues including gender justice, racial justice, environmental justice and education access. Period poverty is an end result of lifetimes of policy that did not centre menstruators or their experiences. It’s important to remember that the work towards menstrual equity is a matter of human rights, of seeing everyone for their full humanity,” says Bedard.
As Period Action Day is celebrated on Oct. 10 it may be more essential than ever as numerous organizations and charities have highlighted that period poverty has got worse during Covid-19. On Menstrual Hygiene Day, Plan International surveyed health professionals in 30 countries. 73% said restricted access to products through shortages or disrupted supply chains is a major issue.
Similarly, according to a study conducted by Kotex and Alliance for Period Supplies, one in four people struggled to purchase period supplies within the last year due to a lack of income. Research has also drawn clear links between period poverty and a depleted quality of life and mental health which has been exacerbated during the pandemic.