Millions of women and girls across the world are missing out on opportunities due to lack of awareness and education around the topic of menstrual hygiene, limited access to period hygiene products and poor sanitation facilities.
Every year, 28th May, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is celebrated globally in the aim of helping to break the stigmas associated with menstruation, raise funds for large-scale activity, and emphasise the political significance of MH Day.
The reason why MH Day is celebrated on the 28th May, is because a woman’s cycle averages 28 days in length and menstruation lasts five days on average.
The theme for this year’s MH Day is to make menstruation a normal fact of life and help to ensure that no one is held back because of their period by 2030. Let’s shout about this – those who menstruate deserve easy access to hygienic products and safe environments in which to use them.
According to CCEA, Period Dignity refers to the accessibility and availability of the essential care needed to support a period, along with the breaking of stigma and taboo around periods.
Did you know that 49% of girls miss school due to their periods, whilst 10% cannot afford menstrual hygiene products?
When faced with the topic of periods many girls feel embarrassment resulting in them missing school and affecting their self-confidence.
Every person who menstruates deserves to have a good period experience, and should not feel awkward to talk about their menstrual cycles. It is therefore imperative to normalise the topic, provide period products and sanitary disposal solutions in schools, workplaces and public washrooms. Periods are a natural part of life, and public perceptions around this should reflect this too.
Menstrual hygiene products
It is a basic human right that those who need them have access to menstrual hygiene products. Periods should not hold those who menstruate back from performing everyday activities.
There is a wide variety of menstrual hygiene products available to help keep you comfortable and dry; the choice is entirely up to you.
Types of period products on the market:
Usually the go-to of sanitary products, pads come in a variety of sizes and absorbencies. They are easy to use, sticking to the inner part of your underwear and are disposed of after each use, but cannot be flushed down the toilet and have to be discarded into a sanitary bin.
Normally made from absorbent material such as cotton or bamboo, these cloth pads are kind to the environment because they don’t end up in a landfill. They have wings with snap on buttons to secure them to your underwear and can be washed after each use.
Made from moisture wicking material, these leak-proof knickers can be washed and reused. These pants are great to use in conjunction with other period products for an extra barrier or can be worn on their own. These knickers look like normal underwear, and are very absorbent so they hold moisture for an entire day.
A soft, absorbent, cotton-based product with a string on one end that is used internally for six to eight hours and discarded thereafter, but again they should be put into a sanitary waste bin and not flushed down the toilet. This product is convenient for various activities and is comfortable to use as you cannot feel them when used correctly. The only drawback of tampons is the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) – a rare, bacterial infection that can cause damage to tissues and vital organs.
Made from silicone, these soft, bell-shaped cups are worn internally. These cups are folded and inserted the same way as tampons, but collect blood instead of absorbing it. This menstrual product is the most environmentally friendly option of all the sanitary products as it can be reused, lasting for up to 10 years. In fact, according to the government, conventional, disposable period products can produce up to 200,00 tonnes of waste per year.
According to the Huffington Post, 24% of those who menstruate only use tampons, 31% only use sanitary pads, 39% use both tampons and sanitary pads, and 6% use a menstrual cup. In fact, all of the 2,134 surveyed stated that sanitary products shouldn’t cost as much and felt the government should not add tax to the cost of these products.
How can you support period dignity and menstrual hygiene?
In order to create awareness and end the stigma associated with periods, various institutions and non-profit organisations (NPOs) around the UK and the world have implemented campaigns and efforts to end period poverty.
Initial Washroom Hygiene has partnered with Freedom4Girls, a UK-registered charity fighting against period poverty in parts of Africa and the UK. Freedom4Girls challenges gender inequalities and taboos associated with periods. They create awareness around period education, provide sanitary products as well as supporting environmentally and financially sustainable options.
For every Period Dignity Vending Dispenser installed by Initial Washroom Hygiene, we donate £5 to this charity plus as an additional £1 for every box of refills ordered for the units.
Want to support this cause? Click here to donate to Freedom4Girls.
Apart from the above mentioned organisation, since menstrual hygiene inequalities and hardships have revealed that millions are struggling with period poverty, many other NPOs were born. You can donate to charities that support ending period poverty such as The Homeless Period that supplies period products to homeless women, or Bloody Good Period who provide sanitary products to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them.
There are various other ways you can support this worthy cause:
- Donate menstrual products to a period dignity cause
- Opt for reusable products such as cloth pads and menstrual cups to help make a positive impact on our environment
- Sign petitions or go on marches to show your support in ending period poverty
- Make your voice heard and raise awareness on social media. Be sure to use the hashtags #MHDay2022, #EndPeriodStigma, #EndPeriodPoverty, #PeriodDignity
- Ask your employer or school to provide menstrual products and sanitary disposal solutions in their washrooms for staff and visitors to use.
Together we can change the perception of periods, create awareness and help initiate action around ending period poverty once and for all.