Periods don’t stop for pandemics. This means that as COVID-19 has been rapidly changing the world we live in period poverty has continued on and we can already see that this combination has only worsened the effects of period poverty.
Plan International’s research on the effects of the pandemic in 2020 clearly shows this and we can only expect this trend to continue as we continue to try to deal with COVID-19 in 2022 and beyond. From 24 different countries, a total of 61 Plan International professionals working in the field of menstrual health and fields directly related to menstruation and period poverty such as water, sanitation, and sex education were surveyed and the results are alarming.
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE PERIODS IN A PANDEMIC REPORT:
Of the countries surveyed, a number of them are in the top 25 of the world's wealthiest countries, including Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada. This data just affirms that period poverty is a global issue, impacting menstruators in every area of the world.
COVID-19 hasn’t just impacted poverty levels and the ability of menstruators to afford to purchase menstrual care products. The pandemic has also impacted the supply chain, which in turn, has impacted the accessibility of products for everyone regardless of financial situation.
It has also resulted in the closure of many public spaces like schools, offices, and other community spaces that traditionally offer free access to toilets, water to wash with, and in some cases, free menstrual products, all essential parts of being able to care for yourself during your menstrual cycle.
To make matters even worse, the added stress the pandemic has put on medical systems also means that accessing healthcare can be more challenging than normal and some people may avoid going in for certain health problems because they fear contracting COVID-19 from other people in medical settings. This means that if a menstruator then has complications from being unable to access all they need to take care of their health during their menstrual cycle, their access to medical care can also be impeded even more than normal.
So as period poverty escalates in the midst of the pandemic, what can we do to help? How can we turn back the tide and work together to eliminate period poverty for good? Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of this series on period poverty where we’ll be focusing on actions we can all take to make a difference.
Blog post by Briana Ryan
Briana is a Master’s of Human Rights student who fills her spare time with writing, reading, yoga, and family time (including, of course, lots of cuddles and playtime with her surprisingly spritely senior dog). In the past, Briana has put her skills to work volunteering with and working for Days for Girls International--an organization devoted to advancing menstrual equity. Although it has taken some time to unpack her own shame around menstruation, Briana now loves chatting about all things menstrual and reproductive health and jumps at any opportunity to get involved with organizations and businesses that empower menstruators.