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Period Poverty during Covid-19

Via University of Pennsylvania 

Period poverty has been an ongoing problem that has affected many women and girls in various countries. "The term refers to the prevalent phenomenon of being unable to afford products such as pads, tampons, or liners to manage menstrual bleeding". In the United States, people living in poverty endure the same experiences as those in low and middle-income countries. In a national survey of 1,000 menstruating teens, the majority of the students reported that the lack of affordable period products has stressed them out. According to the survey, 1 in 5 people struggled to purchase period products, and 4 out of 5 people missed class because they did not have access to period products. Unfortunately, menstrual hygiene products are not covered by government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Instead, these essential products are taxed in almost 30 states, making it more difficult for people to have access to them. 

The coronavirus pandemic, as well as subsequent economic crises, have only worsened the issue, placing marginalized people at a disadvantage when it came to purchasing menstruation products. Since COVID-19 began, the primary issue affecting period poverty was product shortages. Tampons and sanitary pads were completely out of stock in some locations due to the disruption in global product supply. Women's hygiene products became extremely difficult to find in remote areas because of the misperception that they were a luxury item rather than a necessity. As a result, period products have been overlooked, leading to severe shortages. Price inflation is another factor contributing to this because prices have increased significantly as companies dealt with the financial downturn. In a study conducted by the brand Always, it has been found that, since the pandemic began, "1 in 3 parents are worried about their ongoing ability to afford period products". The pandemic’s economic pressure has worsened not only the accessibility of period products, but also the stigma surrounding periods. Since the arrival of COVID-19, many people have ignored the issue of period poverty, making it strenuous for menstruating women to get access to healthcare and the appropriate products. Resources that are being directed towards fighting the pandemic still leaves people in period poverty struggling to manage their periods. "Communities that were given soap, cleaning supplies, and other tools to prevent COVID-19 were not given the same resources to handle menstruation". Unfortunately, many women have no choice and are forced to stay at home because they lack the necessary resources to manage their periods. 

Even though the pandemic has worsened period poverty, many organizations work to solve the issue by supplying products to women. UNICEF and UNFPA, for example, have offered hygiene kits and sanitary items to facilities that are often overlooked, like correctional facilities. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also released a series of educational movies teaching people how to make their own menstruation products if they are unable to afford it. In addition, the UNFPA's app was built to track period cycles and includes educational menstruation content. Another organization that addressed problems was the world bank. They provided water and programs in developing countries to create awareness and teach others about menstruation.   

Via Statista   

This bar graph shows how the access to menstrual products changed due to covid.

Period poverty is an issue that is very important because it is currently affecting many women and children around the world. These people are suffering the consequences because they don’t have access to menstrual products. Due to product shortages because of the pandemic, prices have increased significantly making it difficult for women to buy period products. However, this issue must be resolved because menstrual products are an essential need that people should not have to ask for to satisfy their natural bodily functions. Instead, it is important to "contribute to ending period poverty through national advocacy, legislative changes, programs, and improved access to menstrual products". 

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