What is Period Poverty?

What is period poverty?

Period poverty describes the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products. The term also refers to the increased economic vulnerability women and girls face due the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies. These include not only menstrual pads and tampons, but also related costs such as pain medication and underwear. 

Period poverty does not only affect women and girls in developing countries; it also affects women in wealthy, industrialized countries. 

Difficulty affording menstrual products can cause girls to stay home from school and work, with lasting consequences on their education and economic opportunities. It can also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing women and girls closer toward dangerous coping mechanisms. Studies in Kenya, for example, have shown that some schoolgirls have engaged in transactional sex to pay for menstrual products.

Period poverty is not only an economic issue, but a social and political one as well. For instance, some advocates have called for menstruation products to be taxation exempt. Such efforts in India have resulted in the elimination of tax on menstrual pads and tampons.

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