Period Poverty, Stigma: How Menstruation Affects Education

By Wild Ginger

Period Poverty, Stigma: How Menstruation Affects Education

May 24th, 2021 at 4:31 am

You may have skipped school because of period pain, or have gone home early because of a stain, but in many countries, including Malaysia, children have been missing school because they can’t afford menstrual hygiene products or are afraid of being bullied for having their periods. 

 

Period poverty is a global problem that affects up to 500 million individuals (more than 800 million people menstruate daily). They have limited access to sanitary products and hygiene facilities, such as toilets, handwashing facilities and/or waste management. This human rights issue is exacerbated by the lack of education on menstrual health and hygiene, and the prevailing taboos and stigma. As a result, millions of individuals are held back from reaching their full potential at school and work because it threatens their opportunities, health and overall social status.

 

In Malaysia, the pandemic has made matters worse. Individuals in poor urban areas were already struggling to find an absorbent substitute for unaffordable sanitary pads, resorting to paper, newspaper and ‘kain batik’. In rural areas, they’ve even had to make use of coconut husks and banana leavesNot only are these ‘alternatives’ extremely uncomfortable, the unsanitary conditions they provide put wearers at risk of developing infections, which can lead to serious health issues.

 

Period poverty doesn’t just affect girls and women, it is a global sanitation problem. According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people live without basic sanitation services worldwide, and in developing countries, only 27% of the population have a hand washing facility (soap and water) at home. The lack of education on menstrual health and hygiene among boys and men also harms for those who menstruate, as it affects their confidence and social solidarity. 

 

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global advocacy platform that promotes good menstrual health and hygiene for all. Their goal is to end period poverty and stigma by 2030 by raising awareness and breaking the stigma around menstrual health and hygiene, and engaging decision makers to increase action and investment in menstrual health and hygiene at global, national and local levels. 

 

Achieving menstrual equity worldwide will empower people to manage their menstruation safely and hygienically, with confidence and without shame. It will allow everyone access to menstrual products, proper toilets, hand washing facilities, waste management, and education.

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