Now being in the 21st century, menstruation is still considered ‘unclean’ and a bad omen in many developing countries. Since society is not comfortable with discussing menstruation, girls would have little to no knowledge about their physiological phenomenon and the stigma around menstruation has a detrimental impact on girls’ health and wellbeing.
Period poverty is the situation in which female cannot afford sanitary products and they have to use other substitutes, reduce napkin changing frequency or use nothing. Period poverty also bothers many girls and women in the developed countries such as the UK, South Korea and Japan, while the situation is even worse in resource-strained developing countries. Many can only use old rags, leaves or newspapers instead.
Period poverty shattered girls’ self-esteem and their dreams to thrive by forcing them to drop out of school, suffer from early marriage, teen pregnancy, intergenerational poverty and bacterial infection. It can even claim their lives. Poverty, high sanitary product price, high cost of living and shortages are often seen as the culprits of the issue.
Period shaming is rooted in gender inequality. Cultural and religious traditions around periods derive from discriminatory, patriarchal norms about a girl’s status and place in society.
As a result, girls and women are often expected to refrain from normal activities, such as bathing or cooking and some even have to be banished from their homes during their periods. These restrictions and discrimination towards menstruation devastate girls’ self-esteem.
Nancy Wu, our ambassador, visited Nepal in early 2020 to learn about the hardship and menstrual taboos that girls are facing. The students there also taught her to make reusable sanitary pads.
Nearly 90% of girls have experienced some form of constraints, isolation, discrimination or rejection during menstruation.
Only 28% of the public schools have separated blocks of washroom for boys and girls. Most of the washrooms do not have water supply or handwashing facilities.
The amount of spending on pads in a month is equal to the daily income for a poor household (HK$39).
You can provide a girl with reusable sanitary pad workshops.
You can support schools to provide sanitary and hygiene kits to girls with materials including soap, toothbrush and paste, towel, nail cutter, comb, toilet brush and cleaning agent, dustbin, bucket, tub and mug, sanitary pads, etc.
You can help establish menstrual-friendly rooms with beds, handwashing facilities, rubbish bins, gender and reproductive health posters, etc.) at school for girls to get rest during menstruation and learn about their physiological phenomenon.
Allocation of donations
Plan International will allocate donations for designated projects in accordance with the donor’s intent. However, when the designated project is fully funded, additional donations will be used where needed most for more efficient use of resources without prior notice.