Period Poverty - Why We're Getting Our Bloody Brunch On | My Bloody Galentine 2019
Hey, it’s that time of the month! In case you didn’t already know, on the 17th of February, we will be hosting our third annual My Bloody Galentine Brunch with our favourite bloody babes from Bloody Good Period! In this article, we will be having a candid chat about all things menstrual; the facts, the taboos, and the hopes we have for the future.
Evidently, poverty is one of the major issues that affect people’s access to basic resources and consequently their ability to fulfil their basic needs. However, the concept of period poverty has only been skimming Britain’s consciousness over the last few years. To understand the extent of its effect, let’s begin by looking at some numbers.
According to Plan UK,
One in ten girls (10%) have been unable to afford sanitary wear
One in seven girls (15%) have struggled to afford sanitary wear
One in seven girls (14%) have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to affordability issues
More than one in ten girls (12%) has had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues
One in five (19%) of girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost
While there has been a great backlash against the sexist taxation of women’s hygiene products- many groups of people have been ignored in the plight for cheaper products. Financial constraints are a serious issue that not only affects school children but directly affects the needs of homeless people, people in prison, as well as refugees and asylum seekers. Access to period products is a human right, and sadly these communities are often forgotten. “Being able to hygienically and safely deal with your periods isn’t a luxury. Similarly, girls shouldn’t be missing school because they can’t afford products. These are basic expectations for every woman.”
Another issue that needs to be tackled is that we need to normalise the discourse surrounding periods. Language is a very important component in tackling the stigma and unnecessary shame that affects those all over the world. A survey conducted by Plan UK found that,
Nearly half (48%) of girls aged 14-21 in the UK are embarrassed by their periods
One in seven (14%) girls admitted that they did not know what was happening when they started their period and more than a quarter (26%) reporting that they did not know what to do when they started their period
Only one in five (22%) girls feel comfortable discussing their period with their teacher
Almost three quarters (71%) of girls admitted that they have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products
One in ten had been asked not to talk about their periods in front of their mother (12%) or father (11%)
Vital steps have been taken to address these problems, such as finally having a national discussion about it, but it is this lack of knowledge that fuels myths which ostracize and humiliate women during their monthly cycles. This ubiquitous cultural discomfort towards periods may be a result of taboos surrounding menstruation but most of it is down to simply the lack of detailed, honest information about it. The International Women’s Health Coalition found that there are about ‘5,000 slang words used to refer to menstruation in 10 different languages. Though using euphemisms may seem innocuous, it is indicative of a larger trend in attitudes regarding menstrual health around the globe’, especially amongst the youth.
For instance, schools must be held accountable to implement sex education schemes that provide young girls AND boys with quality information about periods- it is time to ditch the euphemisms and metaphors.
It is estimated about 137,000 girls miss school in the UK each year due to a lack of access to sanitary products.
49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period, of which 59% have made up a lie or an alternate excuse
A survey of more than 1,000 girls found nearly half were embarrassed by their period and many were afraid to ask for help because of the stigma.
The stigma surrounding periods has been shown to directly affect a girl’s potential to succeed. If a girl misses school every time she has her period, she is set 145 days behind her fellow male students.
By empowering women and young girls, investing in better education, resources and products, we can finally break down the barriers that affect almost half the population. It is important to think beyond our own personal needs and to use our privilege to support those who do not have the same access and opportunities to these things. We cannot just sit and wait for institutions to implement these changes, solutions such as educational programs and open and honest dialogue about menstruation have been spearheaded by initiatives like the Red Box Project as well as individuals like Gabby Edlin from Bloody Good Period and Amika George.
So join us, and let’s end the stigma together.
Team VERVE xo