WORDS: Katrin Campbell
FEATURE IMAGE: totm Organic
When we think of poverty, our first thoughts are to refer to homelessness and food banks – certainly our initial thoughts are not to consider menstruation. Period poverty is an issue that you might initially refer to third world countries that cant afford the likes of fresh, clean running water. However, the issue of period poverty has proven to be a lot closer to home than we thought.
Market research from sanitary product brand, Always, have found that a fifth of parents in the UK are struggling to afford the protective products needed for their daughters, resulting in 135,000 girls missing out on school annually as a result of period poverty. Charity Plan International have also found through their research that 1 in 10 women aged between 14 and 21 have been affected at some point as a result of not being able to fund sanitary products.
“135,000 girls missing out on school annually as a result of period poverty”
Sanitary products have been taxed as a luxury product since 1973, at around 5%. The government clearly don’t see that sanitary products are a necessity and therefore should be considered as a basic necessity. A report from the BBC estimated that half of the global population will menstruate for a week, each month, for 30 years. It has been estimated that a woman will spend around about 18,000 in their lifetime on sanitary products, that are a necessity.
Last year, Tesco became the first UK supermarket to cover the cost of the sanitary tax for their customers, lowering the prices of over 100 sanitary products by 5%, and absorbing the VAT cost in order to “help women who find themselves in a financial difficulty” to purchase menstrual products.
One possible way to get around the issue would be to, of course, put a stop to the VAT tax being added to sanitary products. Another alternative that has been introduced is to purchase a menstrual cup. They are reusable, making them cost-effective as well as more environmentally friendly than other sanitary ‘throw away’ product. However, this will not solve the issue surrounding period poverty globally.