Have you ever had to pay for bleeding? No, think again. People worldwide have to pay a high amount of taxes to get period supplies. Period poverty is an important issue that often goes unnoticed. Period poverty means inadequate access to period supplies such as sanitary products, pads, tampons, or liners to manage menstrual bleeding for women and girls. However, The concept doesn’t only emphasize the lack of access to products but also includes inadequate access to toilets, hand washing receptacles, and hygienic waste management. According to FIGO, around 500 million women and girls around the world are the victims of period poverty.
Sanitary products are regulated and taxed as luxury items in third world countries. The excessive tax upon sanitary products makes it a hurdle for women and girls to get access to across both high and lower class settings. Around one in ten young women have found themselves unable to afford protection for their period. A study conducted in rural Kenya has indicated that the high cost of period supplies can expose women and girls to a variety of discomfort and inconvenience. These women are at risk of being exposed to physical, sexual, and reproductive menace. Similarly, the stigmatization of the period combined with a lack of information, poor sanitary infrastructure, and unaffordable sanitary products form a uniquely female healthcare crisis.
Paying taxes on sanitary products and menstrual supplies are mandatory in many countries across the world. Menstruators around the world spend around $150 Million a year just on the sales tax. Period poverty has a long term effect that threatens the future of women and girls. The lack of resources and clear information can stop girls from going to school, which will push them towards a darker pit. Many women who are the only working person in the household will face difficulty going to work. Above all, the taboo related to menstruation and cultural shame often holds back women to participate actively in society. The community stigma and shaming can become very hard/severe at times. For example, Women in Nepal have to stay in exile for a certain period of time during their period. They are unable to touch anything during this time.
According to Period, one in four women struggles to buy period supplies. When people don’t find period supplies, they use alternatives like paper towels, tissue, clothes, etc. These materials are unhygienic and not safe at all. This way, many fall sick and face severe consequences, which can turn into death very quickly/in no time. Persistent use of these can bring about urine infection, vaginal contamination, and numerous different diseases that we aren’t aware of. People opting for unhygienic alternatives are more prone to harmful physical and mental outcomes. For instance, using tissue paper during a period can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is a major cause of infertility.
It’s time we pay attention to the issue of period poverty to ensure the safety of women and girls. Taxes need to be levied to ensure proper access to menstrual supplies for women. The alleged ‘Pink Tax‘ is unjustifiable. Eliminating the ‘Pink Tax’ from period supplies, particularly in third world nations, will make things easier for people that menstruate. Many states have come forward and eliminated the taxes upon period supplies. Many are considering the issue as well. Access to period supplies and hygienic products should be considered as basic liberty. We don’t choose to bleed once a month. Rather, w helplessly surrender to this cycle.