Period poverty, still unconquerable in some societies | Sunday Observer

Period poverty, still unconquerable in some societies

23 April, 2023

Bettering girls’ and women’s menstrual health is progressively gaining policy significance around the world, which promotes fame, poise, gender equality and reproductive health.

Not only having access to clean, absorbent materials but also having private space for using those materials is an integral part of Menstrual Health Management (MHM). Girls and women should be facilitated with the access to Menstrual Health (MH) materials and products of ample and sufficient quality and quantity in order to allow them to safely, cleanly and comfortably manage and collect their menses.

Researchers argue that proper health education, including the identification and the treatment of disorders, surrounded by menstruation will also significantly assist women and girls in a way where they are able to have a safe and suitable way of managing their menstrual health. Despite that, the stigmatisation of menstruation as well as ingrained social norms in some parts of the globe restrict the ample assistance for the menstruating persons which result in MHM being a multi-sectoral policy challenge that affects with the sexual and reproductive health, water, sanitation and hygiene, schooling, education and multiple factors.

Available research relates unhygienic conditions for utilising, sterilising and drying MH products to reproductive tract infections. Meanwhile, a considerable number of qualitative studies discuss how fright, angst and irritation surrounded by menstrual hygiene as a result of stigmatisation hinder and hamper mobility and societal participation that end up with social seclusion.


According to previous studies conducted on the impact of poor MHM on the elements of the labour market and educational outcomes have brought out mixed results, quite recent evidence is linked with the qualitative association between unsatisfactory, MHM and non-attendance of school.

A considerable number of girls, living in low and middle-income countries across the globe are affected by poor management of menstruation. Lack of access to clean and effective absorbents, facilities to change and dispose being insufficient, scarcity of water, soap and lack of privacy are the predominant challenges encountered by effective menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

Apart from that insufficient social support as well as the prevalence of deeply rooted taboos may pave the way for the presence of psychosocial consequences of menstruation which are included with ignominy, fright, consternation and distraction. These thoughts may presumably disturb the ability of the girls to prosper and triumph within their social environment.

The right consideration on the matter of period poverty is not obviously someone’s ability of affording the supplies for menstruation, but also the sheer restraints and constraints of sanitary products, which would lead to the protracted use of the very same tampon or pad. As per the data of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), poor menstrual hygiene even causes physical health risks, reproductive and urinary tract infections. The American Medical Women’s Association defines period poverty as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, sanitary products, facilities for cleaning, washing and waste disposal.


“An expanding body of evidence from low, middle and high resource countries indicates significant menstruation-related challenges faced by schoolgirls, adolescent girls and women and women in the workplace - Challenges that include menstrual stigma, insufficient menstrual education and limited access to menstrual materials, toilets with water, mechanisms for disposal of used materials or privacy. This disparity is exacerbated by the pandemic’’, a senior researcher revealed.

As there are many misconceptions surrounding menstruation,it is of paramount significance to make people aware of the matter in hand by means of educational programmes, notably due to the fact that in some countries mothers of the young girls swear off having a word regarding these issues with them.

Hence, in some societies, senior women may pass on cultural taboos along with unhealthy hygienic practices during menstruation. A recent study, conducted in Lucknow, India, found out that a clear majority of young women’s knowledge on their menstruation was not satisfactory.

The study further revealed that, due to inadequate sanitary infrastructure such as unclean toilets with no water and broken doors in secondary schools and universities, a considerable number of female students in India, refuse attending to their studies during menstruation.The researchers noted that from among 70 young students, interviewed, only a handful number of students had heard of menstruation prior to menarche.These girls were not aware of the biological phenomenon behind menstruation.

In India, menstruation is considered as a reason for discrimination and it is frequently regarded as the reason for which both girls and women are prohibited from attending social and religious events (BBC, 2020). As per a study, around 71% of the Indian adolescent girls are unaware of menstruation till they get their first period (BBC, 2020).

In Bangladesh, a well over one-third of girls interviewed remarked that the issues encountered during their menstruation have got an adverse impact on their performance in school (World Bank, 2018). Knowledge sets the foundation for empowerment and not being aware of something as fundamental as this particular matter is a testament of the magnitude and enormousness of the issue of social stigma.

Due to the lack of access to sanitary products, many young girls in some countries are prevented from attending schools during menstruation. Every human being regardless of their gender deserves proper sanitation and a clean environment. The need for proper and protective hygiene is fundamental and crucial for women and girls when they are menstruating.

While each and every sector in modern society is enormously improved and scientifically and technologically advanced, it is rather pathetic to see that in some societies, a matter as basic as menstruation is still an unconquerable obstacle in the lives of girls and women in some countries even today.