- Waribugo Joseph
Period and the Pandemic
Okay, it is safe to say the world has not fully recovered from the after effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There are recurring rumours of an impending phase two lockdown which has obviously been instilled in the UK. Despite being a precaution to ensure safety and promote the health of people around the globe, the lockdown restrictions also brought bitter experiences for world economies, communities, families, and children - The girl child is not left out.
As a girl in sub-Saharan Africa or in minority communities, access to proper menstrual hygiene remains alien. Being burdened with daily get-by for survival and other basic necessities, girls and women are also faced with period flows; indeed, period doesn’t stop for pandemic.
This natural gift, a symbol of womanhood, though seen as normal, can also pose a threat to life and overall well-being of the female gender if not properly handled. It is rather sad how health regulatory bodies push only for safe sex options to protect people against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) whereas a natural and uncontrollable phenomenon is left unattended to.
Ever wondered why condoms and contraceptives are distributed freely for optional purposes but menstrual pads and tampons are still sold; menstruation is not optional. One can’t decide or choose when and how to observe the monthly flow.
Pre and post pandemic, period poverty has limited the female gender: educationally, socially, and psychologically. Obviously, this sign points to the marginal inequality they suffer. Should we call this negligence or ignorance? Girls, particularly living below the poverty index have no access to proper menstrual kits. For survival sake, some make do with rags, old napkins, and other traditional forms. These methods are medically proven to be detrimental to their reproductive health as it could lead to complications - This is potentially life threatening.
This is just a case aside from the numerous forms of stigmatization that comes with period poverty; especially from the uneducated males, poor period education and cultural myths surrounding periods itself. The trauma, shame and demeaning ripples of the stigma has termed period to be “shameful”.
Period poverty is affecting more girls. This should stop. What can’t be controlled shouldn’t come with a price tag. With the rapidly widening economic gap, the price of these healthy and very paramount items is increasing. Due to gross economic inequality, more marginalized girls and women are left to devise their own means of surviving the period pandemic. How long will this continue?
Providing them with period kits is a channel to reducing period poverty but it is not robust enough. Wouldn’t it be more relieving if these women and girls are trained and economically empowered to produce and distribute clinically tested and reusable hygienic period kits through partnerships with existing industry experts? Not only will this alleviate period poverty, but it will also improve the health of many poor and marginalised women and girls. Exciting right?
More than ever, there is need for legislation to be passed and enacted, promoting free distribution or at most maintaining a fixed, subsidised (VAT free) price for menstrual products regardless of the economic situation. However, the case maybe, girls must be supplied with these kits timely enough to impede against further health hazards. These and more can be implemented to cushion the impact of the period poverty pandemic.
At ProjectASHA, we believe in and promote gender equality. Our priority remains solely to ensure that all girls and women live a protected, improved, and sustained life. We call on businessmen and women of influence and philanthropy, government agencies and organised private sector to adopt this cause as part of their on-going corporate social responsibility - work together to end period poverty.