Have you ever thought about those women on the street who had to manage their period? Well, even if this subject is not very widespread, it remains a major problem for which we must act. On average a woman will use 10,000 periodic protections during her lifetime and the hygienic market was worth close to 30 billion US dollars in 2015. Therefore, three main problems can be identified. The first one is the financial aspect of menstrual management. Is not eating for two days worth a sanitary pad? Another issue is the emotion and painful effects of menstruation. How to cope with these pains when you are alone in the streets? And lastly we will see the different impacts of the taboo around menstruation.
As you know, menstruation is a costly process. Indeed, in the UK, it is estimated that the average woman spends over £3500 on sanitary products. In shops, sanitary products cost around £12, or more and alternatives are not easy to find. Worse, cheaper products can be dangerous for the health. There exists big disparities between cheaply made, low quality sanitary pads and the more expensive, but more reliable, branded products. Instead, homeless women use unhygienic or irregular methods to keep their menstrual state concealed as toilet paper gleaned from public toilets or clothes. However, the bacteria living on unwashed sanitary clothes can lead to reproductive tract infection. Moreover, menstrual cramps or emotional upset are linked to fluctuating hormones and it is extremely complicated for women to relieve their pain in such conditions of living. Lous and the Yazuka was homeless before becoming a singer and told about her experience in a Brut interview (link below). She indeed mentioned lying on a manhole cover to keep warm and reduce her pain.
Nobody deserves to suffer like this. Each of us can act and here are some ideas of how to do so.
It is worth reminding deconstructing the taboo about menstruation is essential. Over centuries, it has been seen as a dirty process, shrouded in secrecy. The taboo is so sadly well implemented in our society it has uneven consequences on homeless women. The silence that surrounds menstruation makes most homeless women uncomfortable asking for help and hygienic products. If all the problems around this natural subject are avoided in the public sphere, it will never come to the attention of the policy makers and service managers and nothing will change. And we need policies which allow free access to reusable sanitary products in public toilets, libraries, shopping centres and cafes. You can support Olivia Mvondo and her company KmerPad to continue producing and supplying reusable periodical protections. These kits are sold at a very economical price, and distributed free of charge to refugee centres or populations in great precariousness. We have also found a film related to the subject so you can be fully aware :
“Period. End of Sentence” inspires people everywhere to think globally and recognize the impact young people can have. It follows the women of Kathikhera, a village outside of New Delhi, India, as they install a machine and sell their pads throughout their district.
Women taking the control of their hygiene back is a considerable way for each of them to step towards financial autonomy and increase their self-confidence and self worth. We need to continuously break down menstrual taboos so we can ensure a safe and affordable menstrual health for everybody. No contribution is too small since $18 provides three months of menstrual hygiene and donations of hygiene products are largely needed. Never stop acting for this cause, they all need help.