We know what periods are and when we think of menstruation, we will be reminded of its once in a month pain mixed with raging hormonal swings, occasional pimples and a plethora of sanitary products to choose from. Wings, without wings, tampons, menstrual cups, you get the gist. But do you know about period poverty?
What is Period Poverty?
Period poverty is the lack of access to various menstruation issues faced by many women around the world such as lack of sanitary products, menstrual hygiene and the knowledge of menstruation itself. Now you might think, “Sanitary pads are only RM10 per pack…”. But for some who can barely afford to have proper meals three times a day, getting a pack of sanitary pads might be the last thing on their mind.
Period Poverty goes beyond not being able to afford sanitary products. Some girls have to skip school and many women are forced to stay confined inside their homes, not being able to engage in any activities due to the menstrual cramps that they have no control over because period pain care is another financial burden headache.
To make it worse, periods are considered taboo so sanitary products aren’t considered necessities because many families are struggling to make ends meet in order to put food on the table. As a result, these poor girls and women are left helpless when that time of the month comes.
Period Poverty in Malaysia
According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people globally live without basic sanitation services. While there aren’t exact numbers to prove the severity of period poverty in Malaysia, we witnessed many people emphasizing sanitary pads to be included in ‘Food Banks’ and charity bags to be given to those who are living at low-cost flats and rural areas.
While you’re debating between 32cm or 41cm overnight pads, there are those who had to resort to wearing pieces of cloth as their pads, which is very unsanitary. Not practising the proper sanitary care poses various health risks such as reproductive and urinary tract infections. So, how can you help?
How to help stop period poverty?
You can begin by shedding more light on this issue because period poverty is often sidelined in Malaysia as we only think about hunger and starvation when it comes to poverty. Planning to help those in need? You can slot in a few packs of sanitary pads too! Most importantly, in order for this issue to be recognized, we must help play our parts in highlighting that periods are normal and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The time has come to destigmatize periods.