Problem. Period. Part 2 of 2
Written by: Vicki Roberts-Gassler | Advocates for Women, News Group
In emerging economies, where poverty is even deeper and more widespread than in wealthier countries, the problems associated with periods are compounded. The instances of girls staying home from school while they have their period for lack of access to supplies is widespread. This could mean missing up to a quarter of instruction, which leads to girls falling behind and often dropping out of school.
The taboo against discussing menstruation is, if anything, more harmful in countries of the developing world. In India, for example, the traditional practice was to use cloth pads, but because they are laundered secretly – no one should see them drying in the sun, so they might be hidden under a mattress or in a cupboard – they are often unhygienic, leading even to serious health problems. The government’s solution in recent years has been to promote commercially available pads, with all the problems of disposal; due to the taboo women are not informed about alternatives, and when the supply chain broke down during the pandemic, problems became acute, as discussed in the article here https://scroll.in/article/965984/only-15-girls-in-india-had-access-to-sanitary-pads-during-lockdown
Some new products are also being created. Menstrual cups are one good example as they greatly reduce waste. A quick google search leads to numerous other reusables or more eco-friendly alternatives. Here’s a quick summary analysis: https://greatist.com/health/eco-friendly-period-products-sustainable-period-products#best-eco-friendly-and-sustainable-period-products
When Advocates for Women held a benefit for Days for Girls (daysforgirls.org) a few years ago, we learned about this organization’s cleverly constructed kits of reusable pads that can revolutionize the lives of girls in poor countries. Some of us have participated in groups of volunteers to make them. Days for Girls is currently challenged by the pandemic, but volunteers continue to sew, and we will hope they can catch up soon. The organization donates thousands of kits each year and works to train seamstresses in the recipient countries to make and sell the kits locally.