Friday, 13 July 2018

Why We Need To Discuss Period Poverty

(art by @jessicasharvilleillustration)

Getting your period is a weird, confusing experience. You're confused, freaked out, empowered and over emotional all at the same time. There are a lot of different feelings happening, which can make it quite difficult to deal with in the beginning. For most of us, we tell our mum what happened and she knows exactly what to do. She'll tell you it's perfectly normal, stick the kettle on for a hot water bottle, and bombard you with all the sanitary products anyone could ever need.

However, this unfortunately isn't always the case. For some young people, getting their period is an extremely scary time, something they've dreaded because they know that either their parents can't afford sanitary products, or they feel like they have no one to go to for support. When we first hear the term 'period poverty', our minds automatically go to the poor girls out in third world countries such as Kenya and India, where young girls are usually made to feel ashamed of getting their period, and are seen as dirty and unsanitary as they have nothing to use to collect their period blood and are forced to free bleed as a result. 

Although this is a serious problem in poor countries, it is surprisingly more common in the UK than you would think. When I was made aware of this issue, the statistics shocked me and broke my heart. Currently, 1 in 10 girls aged 14-21 can't afford sanitary products to deal with their period, and this in turn effects their education, as young people are forced to skip school and stay at home during their period as they have no way of dealing with it. 

Not being able to afford these product is bad enough, but what makes it worse is the taboo that surrounds something as natural and as normal as your period. Young girls, trans and non-binary people are made to feel embarrassed by their period due to many different reasons, and I think we should all start actively trying to break this taboo and help people facing period poverty in the UK and beyond. There are already some incredible organisations that you can support who are really helping raise awareness about this issue. 

Bloody Good Period are a group of people who aim to 'take the financial burden out of the most annoying time of the month by providing supplies to those who need them'. They give donated period products to asylum seeker centers across London and Leeds, but they also have an amazing blog where they aim to break period taboos. You can donate or read articles on their website - .  

As well as donating to charities, there are many things you can do to help the problem. Every time you buy, for example, a packet of pads or tampons, buy another packet with the intention of giving them to either a homeless person, a homeless shelter, a women's shelter, or even just leaving them in a public bathroom which I often do. You might feel like doing something as small as this won't help the problem, but that small gesture could really help someone out.

You can also join many people in the campaign for the government to provide free period products to any school children who are entitled to free school meals. Join the fight against period poverty! 

Much love,

Orlagh xx

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