Introduction: Period poverty refers to the lack of access to menstrual products, education and hygiene facilities, leading to physical and mental challenges for those impacted. Globally, millions of people experience period poverty, making it a widespread, global issue that needs to be addressed. Saathi has launched a three-part series delving into period poverty; investigating how menstruation can impact education, the importance of menstrual education and the current situation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In part 1, we talk about the impacts of menstruation on our education; explaining how menstruation can cause barriers to education.
Education is a crucial human right that should be available to everybody. Education promotes individual freedom and autonomy, allowing marginalized people the opportunity to participate in their communities and lift themselves up. All children should be offered the same opportunities for education, regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status. However, this is not always the case due to period poverty. In part 1, we explain how menstruation can negatively impact menstruators' access to education, creating unfair barriers to this human right. Keep following this series to develop a deeper understanding of the same.
Menstruation can negatively impact education for women, hindering their access to this human right. Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; have the opportunity to complete all levels of education, acquiring the knowledge and skills to compete in the labor market; gain socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.”.
This blog explores how menstruation can negatively impact education. We delve into how menstrual stigma, poor sanitation facilities and lack of sanitary products can act as a barrier for education.
How does menstrual stigma impact education?
Menstruating can hinder one’s educational experience through the social stigma faced. In many cultures around the world, there is a degree of shame and secrecy associated with getting one's period. In India, there is discrimination against menstruating people; periods are seen as taboo and impure. These ideals have been ingrained in society through generations, passed down through myths and taboos.
The shame and humiliation associated with periods leads girls to feel uncomfortable, they want to be able to keep their periods a secret. This can lead to a lack of concentration at school, stemming from this general discomfort and constant fear of period leakage. This discomfort can also lead to an inherent desire to stay home from school, leading to high levels of absenteeism and dropouts for girls. Girls often feel too ashamed and humiliated to attend school on their periods with over 20% of girls dropping out of school in India once they have reached puberty.
The harmful taboos and stereotypes surrounding periods act as a barrier for education.
How do poor facilities and lack of sanitary products to address menstruation impact education?
Poor facilities in educational institutions that are not adequate for the management of periods and the lack of sanitary products available only alleviate the discomfort discussed above.
Surveys in almost 50 low-income countries, conducted by UNICEF found that only 45% of schools have adequate sanitation facilities. In rural India, there is an annual dropout rate of almost 23 million girls because of inadequate sanitation facilities and lack of access to menstrual products.
This is a global, widespread issue. In New Zealand, in a survey conducted by KidsCan, it was found that 23.6% of respondents had missed school or work due to lack of access to sanitary products. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a UNESCO report estimates that one in ten girls misses school during their cycle.
These poor facilities and lack of sanitary products may mean that students feel uncomfortable managing their periods at school or university, they may not be able to do so in a way that is safe and healthy. Furthermore, there is an added layer of embarrassment and fear as these poor facilities may contribute to period leakage.
The lack of facilities for menstruating people coupled with the societal discomfort surrounding periods has a significant negative impact on the education of women. These unsafe facilities and lack of sanitation act to accelerate their fear and shame surrounding their periods, exemplified through high dropout and absenteeism rates.
Societal stigma, poor facilities and lack of adequate sanitation products contribute to the hugely negative impact that menstruation can have on education. All together, these three factors create an environment of shame, humiliation and discomfort for girls trying to receive their education. Girls are unable to receive their education in the same way that boys are able to, they are forced to manage their menstruation in a system that is not built for them. Difficult decisions must be made, weighing health and comfort with education leading to the high levels of absenteeism and drops out highlighted above. Absences impact the quality of the education that girls will receive, through missing a few days every month, they are receiving less education than their male counterparts.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we highlight the importance of menstrual education.
- What is Period Poverty and How Saathi Addresses it in India
- Why is a Sustainable Solution Essential to Creating Period Equity?
- Menstrual Hygiene Day | Challenges and Saathi's Impact – Saathi: Women’s Health, Women’s Hygiene
Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNESCO Green Citizens project, St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
Check out a short video of our story here and follow us at @saathipads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube to learn about more facts and myth busters about sustainability, women’s health, and more!
About Tattv Bodh Foundation:
Tattvbodh Foundation, a non-profit organization is proud to be partnering with Saathi - a social venture which manufactures plastic-free sanitary pads from natural fibers. Saath, along with Tattv Bodh Foundation have launched #OneMillionPads initiative to address the lack of access to menstrual products. The #OneMillionPads initiative aims at providing complete Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) to underprivileged women in India who don't have access to sanitary pads. With this campaign, we plan to reach 5000 menstruators and provide them with a supply of menstrual products for 1 year so that menstruation does not affect or hinder their daily activities. It takes only Rs 1500 to provide sustainable pads to 1 menstruator for the entire year. Make your contribution here and tag 5 others!
We are happy to announce that TattvBodh Foundation is participating in the GiveIndia Fundraising Challenge 2022 where every donation you make to Tattv Bodh Foundation through GiveIndia gets them closer to their mission.
Why should you donate to us through GiveIndia?
- Every contribution from you makes us eligible to matching rewards
- Making a donation to us has been made easy and GiveIndia does not charge any platform retention on the donation, but only the minimal payment processing fee
- Matching rewards won by us, through your support, help us to amplify our impact to more beneficiaries and a wider community
- Donors avail tax exemptions for the amount contributed
Visit Give India - 1 M pads - Tattv Bodh Foundation to extend your support!