What is Period Poverty & How Can We End It?

What is Period Poverty & How Can We End It?

Period poverty, equity, and inclusion have been discussed and advocated for now more than ever. But what is period poverty, how can we combat it, and can an individual person make a difference? Continue reading to find out all these answers and more.

What is period poverty? 

While period poverty is most commonly discussed, referring to unequal access to period products like pads, tampons, cups, and period underwear, the term encompasses much more. To experience period poverty can include the inability to access all things related to menstruation. This includes a lack of or unequal access to 

  • Period products; pads, tampons, cups, period underwear 
  • Clean underwear or the ability to wash the ones you have
  • Bathrooms to change products or cleanse your body 
  • Menstrual education 
  • Waste management and proper disposal methods 
  • Living in an area with stores that have enough stock of period products

If you’ve experienced any of these things, you’ve been affected by period poverty. Many people think they haven't or can't experience period poverty because they have enough money or access to period supplies, but it goes beyond that. 

Without proper access to these things, people who bleed cannot go to work, school, and other activities. If they do attend to their responsibilities, they’ll be subject to using unsanitary products, bullying, and embarrassment—leaving those experiencing period poverty in a constant battle each month. 

The impact of reusable menstrual supplies on period poverty

A significant factor of period poverty is the inability to access products each month. While all period products should be free, in the meantime, reusable period products can be an incredible resource for those struggling to access products. 

When it comes to reusable period products, you have a couple of options. There are reusable pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups. These products can be rewashed time and time again and are typically under 25 dollars. While you might need to buy a few to last a complete cycle, you’ll save money compared to buying single-use period products each month. It is important to note that to safely use reusable products, you need access to sanitary washing facilities.

How can you combat period poverty? 

In 2021, U by Kotex conducted a survey to see how many people have been affected by period poverty and which demographic groups are most affected. U by Kotex reported that two in five people had experienced period poverty. This is up by 35% from their previous study done in 2018.

The study also reported that the Black and Latinx community are disproportionately affected by period poverty compared to other demographics. COVID-19 has increased this number significantly for all demographic groups. 27% of people surveyed reported that the pandemic made it difficult for them to access period products, and over 2/3 of this group shared that it was because they could not afford it. 

Nearly 68% of people within this study agree that period poverty is a public health issue. Period products should be free for anyone who needs them, but in the meantime, there are things you can do to combat period poverty. While this can be a financial or product donation, there are many relatively inexpensive options to help. 

  • Donate period products and undergarments to local shelters and community fridges/ pantries. 
  • Support period companies (like Monthly) that give back to the community
  • Educate friends and family about period poverty. This can be having conversations or sharing information on social media. 
  • Donate to your local Planned Parenthood so they can continue offering free products and services. 
  • Talk to your community about reusable period products 
  • Urge politicians in your area to support the fight against period poverty 
  • Support brands like Go Aunt Flow who donate period products to businesses and schools in need 

Whatever you decide to do, keep the conversation going and remind people that period poverty is more than access to period products, and anyone can experience it.  

How does monthly combat period poverty 

At Monthly, we’re all about fighting period poverty and providing equal access to anyone who bleeds. That's why we donate a percentage of profits to charities across the South dedicated to fighting period poverty and promoting period equity. 

Being a part of the period conversation and promoting inclusivity and accessibility through our messaging and content is a massive part of our mission.