Youth understand when their family is struggling in poverty. Money pains are obvious, and it can impact individuals in various ways.
For young girls, this can lead to difficulties as their mature into puberty and start their periods: all of a sudden, the need to afford menstrual hygiene supplies adds an extra burden to the situation.
There, unfortunately, is a negative stigma around menstruation, and not having adequate supplies can make a young woman feel embarrassed or anxious about leaking. It can also cause young girls to opt to skip school.
For example, Hanna Morrison, a British woman who started a petition asking for sanitary products to be made free in schools throughout the country, said at age 12 she often missed school entirely, using toilet paper as a substitute for pads because she felt too guilty to ask her mom for money for pads.
The statistics in countries throughout the world are staggering: worldwide, 131 million girls are not in school, with 100 million of those of high school age, according to UNESCO. Roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods each year, according to UNICEF estimates. And, In India, there are estimates that 1 in 5 girls drop out of school after they get their periods. In some regions, like Maharashtra, that number is nearer to 4 in 5.
Period supplies, like diapers, are an often overlooked necessity that people living in poverty struggle to afford. In our country, 12.7% of the population nationwide is living at or below the recognized poverty level – yet the programs are not in place to ensure adequate supply. Period products cannot be obtained with SNAP or WIC benefits, and many people simply do not think of the need when making in-kind donations to local organizations.
The need is ongoing, every month a woman living in poverty is faced with difficult decisions on how to spend a limited income. Meeting her basic need for period supplies can help restore her dignity and confidence as she lifts herself out of poverty.
With period supplies available, she can have the confidence to go to school, work, sports, and so on — without feeling anxious or embarrassed.