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Period Poverty: What is it and why you should care

Health • by Natasha Butler • 26 October 2021

Women have come a long way in fighting for their rights on all fronts over the years. Therefore, for the average person, it will be shocking to discover that, in this day and age, many women – from school girls to older females – struggle with period poverty during their menstruation.

What is period poverty exactly?

Period poverty affects females living in poorer communities and rural areas, not only in South Africa, but all over the world.

It’s when females don’t have access to, or can’t afford, sanitary products, because buying food is more of a priority than paying for pads. And therefore, they have to rely on home-made alternatives such as newspapers or materials of clothing. 

They also don’t have access to water and adequate sanitation, so they don’t have an hygienic way to deal with their periods. 

These factors can all lead to not only infections and health issues, but also have detrimental consequences on a female’s reproductive health.

Barriers to education and development

Due to not having proper sanitary products, some girls will stay out of school around five days a month. For young females, this poses a huge barrier to their education.

Teasing by others and the occurrence of period-related accidents are fears they have to deal with. This creates a stigma around periods, and they will rather choose to stay home from school than be faced with embarrassment, ridicule and loss of dignity.

Having to suffer in silence simply because they have their period has become the norm, because they won’t think that seeking help about their periods is an option.

All of these can have a detrimental effect on learning and their mental health

The stigma around menstruation

Many females have to deal with the stigma around menstruation. They’re shamed and discriminated against, and viewed as “dirty” or “unclean” simply because they are bound by a natural, biological function.

This discrimination occurs in certain cultures, because of religious beliefs, and more widely through plain ignorance. These views, even though widely accepted, and whether viewed as a belief or joke, are still harmful and degrading to the females subjected to it. 

What can we do about it?

Education around menstruation is essential, as it’s important to remember that it is a natural, biological function of a female’s reproductive system, and necessary for the perpetuation of the human race. And therefore, shouldn’t be regarded as something of disgust. 

Education about this subject is the best course of action to take to not only break the stigma surrounding menstruation, but also bring awareness to period poverty. 

And everyone should take a stance in eradicating period poverty. Not just women, but men as well.

How you can help

If you’re interested in helping eradicate period poverty, there are a few recourses you can take. 

  1. Go to www.change.org to sign a petition for the government to supply free sanitary pads to girls/women in poorer communities.
  2. You can also visit these websites for more information and to make a donation towards eradicating period poverty in South Africa:

GetSavvi Cares

At GetSavvi Health we’re all about health and care about yours. Therefore, we offer affordable primary healthcare where members have access to not only doctors and hospitals when they need it, but also preventative benefits like pharmacy visits for health tests and vaccinations.

If you’re not a GetSavvi Health member and would like to get affordable medical cover and more, simply click here for a quick quote. No obligations!

 

References: 
Period Poverty in South Africa
'Lack of sanitary pads force girls to use unhygienic materials': Health expert on ending period poverty
Help Us Eliminate period poverty in South Africa
What Is Period Stigma?
Period stigma: how it holds back girls and women

 

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