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The Growing Crisis of Period Poverty and its Impact on Human Rights & Public Health

Apart from how society stigmatizes periods or a majority of the natural processes of the uterus as taboo, there are also human rights and public health concerns for women and girls who can't access menstrual health products easily.

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Introduction: What is Period Poverty and How Does it Impact Human Rights?

Period poverty is an issue that has been gaining attention in recent years, as it affects the human rights of millions of people worldwide.

This includes the right to health, privacy, education, and dignity.

Period poverty is defined as "a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these. It affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide." 1

This article will discuss the implications of period poverty on human rights and explore potential solutions that can help address this global problem.

We will look at the financial implications of how menstrual hygiene management (MHM) affects individuals' physical and mental health and how to address them.

Finally, we will discuss how governments and civil society organizations work together to ensure everyone has access to affordable MHM products and services.

The Financial Implications of Period Poverty on Women and How to Address Them

Period poverty is growing in many countries, including the United States. It refers to the financial burden that menstruation can cause for women, especially those living in poverty. This burden can be due to the cost of menstrual products, lack of access to these products, and/or inadequate education about menstruation.

Menstrual products are expensive in the U.S. In a national survey of 1,000 menstruating teens, 1 in 5 struggled to afford period products and 4 in 5 either missed or knew someone who missed class time because they did not have access to period products.

Many students rely on menstrual products purchased and supplied by school districts and stored within a school clinic or school nurse’s office. 2

At least 14 states and local jurisdictions have proposed legislation to ensure that menstrual products are readily available in school bathrooms.

In order to address this issue, there needs to be a focus on providing affordable menstrual products and improving access for those who need them. Additionally, policy changes need to be implemented to ensure period products can be accessible in all schools and workplaces.

How Access to Menstrual Products Can Help Improve Public Health Outcomes

Access to menstrual products is essential for the health and well-being of all people, as menstruation is a natural biological process that affects half of the population.

Menstrual product education and awareness can help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, which can lead to better hygiene practices and improved health outcomes. This includes providing menstrual products in schools and workplaces and information on how to use them safely and effectively.

Additionally, access to menstrual products can help reduce the economic burden of menstruation on women, which is a major contributor to public health disparities. With increased access to menstrual products, women can focus more on their health, education, and career goals without worrying about the cost of managing their period.

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What can you do to help Combat Period Poverty?

  1. Normalize conversations about periods. This is crucial to reducing shame and stigma and offering effective solutions.

  2. Talk to teens about how they purchase menstrual products. This is as important to understanding their menstrual health as the frequency or duration of periods.

  3. Work towards eliminating the tax on menstrual products. 24 states have scrapped taxes on menstrual products. But 26 states still have the tax — including some of the country’s poorest regions.

  4. Advocate for better education on menstruation, both locally and worldwide.

  5. Keep extra pads or tampons with you to give to others.

  6. Write, email, or call your legislators.

  7. Closing the gender and racial wealth gaps. Based on 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data, women working full time, year-round earn an average of 82 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts.

Conclusion: Supporting Menstrual Hygiene Management is Essential for Achieving Gender Equality & Improved Public Health Outcomes

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is essential to achieving gender equality and improved public health outcomes.

It is a basic human right that allows for better healthcare access and improved quality of life for women and girls.

MHM has been largely overlooked by governments and policymakers, leading to inadequate investment in menstrual rights, which can lead to poor public health outcomes. This article will discuss the importance of supporting MHM in order to achieve gender equality and improved public health outcomes. It will also explore how governments, organizations, and individuals can work together to ensure that all women have access to the menstrual hygiene products they need in order to maintain their dignity and health.

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash


1 Cardoso, L.F., Scolese, A.M., Hamidaddin, A. et al. Period poverty and mental health implications among college-aged women in the United States. BMC Women's Health21, 14 (2021).

2 Davies, Shelby, et al. “Period Poverty: The Public Health Crisis We Don’t Talk About.” Period Poverty: The Public Health Crisis We Don’t Talk About, 6 Apr. 2021,

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