Period Poverty plagues millions of women around the world, but is it as pressing of an issue? Are there more important problems to be focused on? Read for more.
by Sriya Gundlapally
Around the world, there are many people who suffer from a lack of proper hygiene. Women, in general, may suffer from a lack of hygienic products, such as pads and tampons, which allow them to properly deal with their periods. According to an article by Global Citizen, period poverty is the “lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand-washing facilities, and/or, waste management”. Things like these are what most people who are privileged, like most of us, may take for granted.
Period poverty plays many disadvantages in a woman’s life. It has the ability to induce a loss of confidence for millions of women around the world since they are unable to appropriately care for themselves during their period. In a Reuters’ Health 2019 survey, two-thirds of low-income women said that they were unable to afford or find proper menstrual hygiene products within the last year.
On the other hand, people might believe that period poverty isn’t as pressing as it seems and that there are more critical issues that need to be brought into the light.
So this is where the Trilemma lies. Is period poverty an important issue that must be the center of focus? Or are there other issues that are more critical that need to be funded? Or is there, perhaps, a neutral stance? Well, that’s what we’re here for. Let’s find out.
Period Poverty Isn’t as Pressing as Other Issues:
Today, there are many issues worldwide such as loss of biodiversity, global warming, and religious conflict. Due to problems such as these, people find that funding should be used for more pressing issues than period poverty which some may argue is not as life-threatening as other global crises. Furthermore, issues like climate change and the lack of basic necessities affect every living organism whereas period poverty pertains largely to women.
Since period poverty lacks the qualifications to be considered “life-threatening,” governments, especially those of third world countries, have instead decided to turn their attention to more pressing issues worldwide. In order to provide effective solutions to problems, funding is necessary, and putting more money into period poverty would divert from other critical issues.
Period Poverty is a Critical Issue:
While period poverty might not be as “life-threatening” as it seems, it indirectly plays a major role in undermining women and forcing them into uncomfortable situations. Those who view period poverty as a significant problem understand that it forces many women worldwide to suffer monthly. Bringing countless side effects, it can cause depression and anxiety which in some cases might lead to suicide. For example, according to BBC News, a fourteen-year-old girl in Kenya committed suicide after getting humiliated in class for having her period. Even her own teacher had embarrassed her, portraying how much these women need to go through due to their periods.
Additionally, this issue affects women from an educational standpoint when they are eventually forced to drop out of school because of the circumstances. The uneasiness that comes with the lack of period products leads to discomfort when women are attending school. This eventually leads to other factors that might undermine a woman’s education, like lack of attendance and participation. It finally forces them out of attending school any longer, pursuing higher education, and, therefore, strips them of opportunities for their ambitions and goals. Though not directly life-threatening like an earthquake or virus, people who advocate for this issue would argue that period poverty is a factor that plays a huge part in ruining women’s lives, and, therefore, is inherently “life-threatening.”
The Neutral Stance:
Period poverty is an issue that affects countless numbers of women all over the world. Hence, perceiving it as a “light” issue can trouble millions.
Some believe this issue should be given more attention from the public as it would help reduce the concerns that women have such as depression, the inability to receive a higher education, and being subjected to societal pressure. To increase funds for period poverty, cuts in funding for other issues can be made, and governments can attempt to focus on multiple issues at once, including period poverty. By not excluding this issue entirely, women are still being helped. In any case, even a little help can go a long way.