Menstruation is not a choice. It comes with unpleasant and challenging experiences - from the pain and the embarrassment, to the lack of products or disposal facilities.
These detrimental impacts, along with many others, are often, but perhaps not often enough, referred to as period poverty - a form of poverty that impacts millions of women and girls across the world. We would go as far as to describe period poverty as a global crisis.
Action Aid, a UK-based charity, recorded that 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because they don't have access to sanitary products or a safe and hygienic toilet. But this problem is far closer to home than some may think; Bodyform found that over 350,000 girls in the UK will admit to having missed school on at least one occassion because of their period. Devastating figures like these are just a small representation of the realities that girls face worldwide.
Charities and organisations such as FreePeriods.org and The Red Box Project are working tirelessly to better equip UK schools so that no student of the future shall have to forgo their education because of a natural cycle. FreePeriods was founded by Amika George to raise awareness of period poverty and to support those whose periods have become a hindrance to their education. Listen to what Amika has to say about period poverty here.
As well as its educational detriment, period poverty involves stigma. Menstruation is stigmatised everywhere, from cultural shame to lack of hygiene education. It is a natural, bodily function and yet, a taboo subject. Period stigma is harmful to all women because it is damaging in both their personal and professional lives. The stigmatisation leads to a lack of health education, which, in turn, fuels myths that ostracise women during their monthly cycles. This vicious circle must be broken.
To overcome period poverty, a key area on which to focus is the provision of free menstrual products. However, whilst this is a step in the right direction, it will take a lot more to end the global crisis. We need a greater platform for this conversation if we are to achieve the change necessary to eradicate period poverty.
Until this topic is discussed openly worldwide, it will remain a silent struggle for many. As we are showcasing through this site and our social media accounts, there is a plethora of organisations fighting to end period poverty everyday. However, they need a greater reach to achieve the overall defeat of period poverty.
Until period talk is normalised, and all menstruating people can access products and hygiene facilities, we cannot declare that we have conquered this global issue.
Through social media - be it conversations, retweets or hashtags - we ask you to help catapult this global crisis to the top so it can be seen AND HEARD.
Head over to our period poverty section to find more information about how this affects people all over the world.