Despite menstruation being a monthly fact of life for almost half the world’s population, period poverty affects women and girls across the globe. Millions lack access to essential menstrual products such as sanitary towels, as well as safe and hygienic spaces in which to use them.

What Is Period Poverty?

Period poverty doesn’t just describe a lack of access to menstruation products, but also a lack of education on how girls and women can manage their periods safely and hygienically. In many cultures and communities around the world – particularly in Africa and India – there is a stigma attached to menstruation that makes women and girls feel ashamed during their period. It is this, as much as the lack of suitable products, that cause period poverty.

These are some of the most common symptoms of period poverty:

Loss of Education

Girls who are unable to manage their periods are often forced to miss one or more days of school during this time. Since menstruation is a monthly occurrence, this soon adds up to weeks of missed school over the course of a year, which can negatively affect their education. In sub-Saharan Africa, girls can miss as much as 20% of their school, which leads to some dropping out of school altogether.

Health Risks

Women and girls with out access to clean menstruation products will often resort to using old rags in an effort to manage their periods. This can cause a serious risk of infection, a risk that is exacerbated by girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).

Social Stigma

There is a social stigma to menstruation in many communities around the world, one that is more pronounced in poorer and more remote regions. Women on their periods are expected to refrain from normal activities, such as bathing and cooking. In extreme cases, they are banished from the family home until their period has finished. This deep-rooted social stigma plays a key role in period poverty in the parts of Africa where we operate.

What We’re Doing to Help

Here at the Your Smalls Appeal, we’re doing our part to help reduce period poverty among women and girls in Africa. We supply them with reusable menstruation kits, produced by women in the Gambia. These kits are beautifully crafted and last for three years. They include a bag and flannel, along with a bar of soap, pair of pants, a fabric insert, and reusable soft fabric pads.

These kits provide women and girls with the items them need to stay clean and sanitary during their periods. It means they do not have to miss out on work or school because of a natural function of their bodies.

This program is a crucial step towards eradicating period poverty and you can help. Make a donation today and change the world for someone.