The effects corona-virus has had on period poverty.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many changes. We have come to understand new phrases such as social distancing, furlough and lockdown. It has also, most significantly, had countless catastrophic impacts throughout the world. However, with more time on our hands than ever, we’ve witnessed people really using this time to help others. Activism has catapulted into new leagues this past year and it is for that reason we have also become familiar with phrases such as, “Periods don’t stop in pandemics”. But what does this really mean?
“Research for Menstrual Hygiene Day, part of International Day of the Girl in October, found 47% of girls and women in 160 countries have experienced more difficulties in getting period products during the pandemic.” - The Guardian
UK: The UK lockdown meant non-essential shops closed and travel was restricted. With local convenience stores struggling to survive and infrequent public transport, buying period products was a less accessible practice than normal.
We also experienced stockpiling, with mass panic-buying and aisles being stripped of the necessities. Those on a lower income found stockpiling to be a particular issue. They were less likely to take part in the selfish act as they had to consider other monthly costs. When their period came, the shelves would often be empty.
Another big issue that arose from the pandemic was the unemployment rates. These have rocketed in the last 12 months. The most recent unemployment rate - for August to October - was 4.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is an increase of 0.7% over the previous three months, and means that 1.69 million people were unemployed - BBC news/business. With a rise in redundancies and a fresh set of graduates struggling to find their first job, many don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. All of this, for those who menstruate, causes issues; do you prioritise hot water this month, or period products? Let us not forget that, until this month tampon tax was still in place, making period products unaffordable at the best of times, let alone in a global pandemic.
Globally: Charities have been stopped in their tracks due to travel restrictions. This means that the ability to provide products to countries suffering from mass poverty has become nearly impossible. This affects the world far more than it may initially seem. Young students who cannot receive period products have an increased chance of missing school.
Before the pandemic, these rates were already alarmingly high with 1 in 10 girls in Africa missing school because of their period - Global Citizen - and here in the UK, 49% of girls had missed some parts of school for the same reason - BodyForm . These rates are growing exponentially. More significantly, the health of those who menstruate is in jeopardy if their access to period products is limited for much longer.
For anyone who cannot access period products, the impacts are inconvenient, uncomfortable and pose potential risks to health and safety. Without access to period products, people are forced to use alternatives or nothing at all.
All of this is heightened in a global pandemic as; help is harder to access, income has taken a toll, products cost more money in many countries now due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, and the list goes on.
What are people doing to help?
Bloody Good Period have donated a record breaking 60,000 period products since the beginning of the first corona-virus lockdown, and are continuing to work hard to help anyone who needs it, from asylum seekers to NHS front line staff. https://www.bloodygoodperiod.com/covid19
ActionAid have started a new programme called “Share a better period” encouraging donations specifically for period products to be given to those in need in Africa and India.
Some other insightful articles on Period Poverty in a Pandemic: