Period poverty is a global issue affecting women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products or other menstrual products. It is a struggle mainly for low-income women and girls. The term also refers to the increased economic vulnerability faced by them due to the financial burden posed by menstrual products. It is often ignored as a public health crisis because it simply gets associated with disgust rather than seeing it as biologically healthy and normal.
Therefore, which leads to many women and girls being forced to use rags, cloth, toilet paper, tissue papers, or even cardboard. It not only consists of a lack of menstrual products but lack of access to proper and clean toilets which makes girls pay for restrooms in the public.
The subject of period poverty concerns half of the population. It is very much prevalent in India. The country with the second most populated and, handling the largest democracy in the world is still behind in even understand the menace. According to the UN, only 42% of women have access to pads and tampons. More than half of it does not even have proper knowledge about it, until their first period. Either they are misinformed or there is no information given.
The much bigger cause of this crisis is the stigmatization and cultural stereotypes that women and girls face. In India, a mild conversation about periods is considered shameful and degrading. Women are described as ‘dirty’ while they are on their periods. They are made to eat alone, dine separate and sleep outside the house in most of the rural households. They are even not allowed to enter shrines or temples. The worst-case scenario is all this start with schools not having proper or no menstrual education.
Poor menstrual hygiene is the cause of most of the reproductive diseases in women and girls at a very early age. With no pads or tampons, they are forced to use rags which cause serious problems to them. They do not have access to toilets which leads them to take less care of their hygiene.
Education is one of the most important cure to period poverty which is absolutely lacking in the case of India. The WHO, notes that girls miss an average of five days of schools in a month due to periods and lack of sanitary products. The reason that they are not ready to face embarrassment from society, which results in the highest number of girls being dropped out of schools every year with being forced to get married at an early age (child marriages).
There is an urgent need to shine a light on period poverty in India because the steps taken by the concerned authorities are only deteriorating in every way. The government imposed a 12% tax on pads and tampons making it difficult for women and girls from low-income household to buy them.
Though in 2018, it was removed, free access to menstrual products is still an illusion for many. The high cost of sanitation facilities makes it difficult for women to make it through these difficulties. In comparison to India, countries like Scotland and Britain have totally made sanitary products free. Menstrual products are a necessity and no one should be deprived of them at any cost.
The solution to the problem starts with providing correct information even to the ones with no information. There should be stringent measures taken to eradicate menstrual inequality by initiating friendly talks and workshops in rural as well as urban settlement. The education sector should be more responsible for providing proper knowledge about periods and other problems surrounding it. But, what is most important is the need to eradicate the shame surrounding menstruating women because not all menstruators are women and not all women menstruate.