Welcome back to Saathi’s Period Poverty series! In part 2, we discussed the importance of menstrual education and the role this plays in reducing period poverty. In part 3 of our three-part series, we discuss how period poverty has accelerated amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to amplify and create issues and disturbances in our communities. Therefore, unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on period poverty. Period poverty refers to inadequate access to menstrual tools and education. This blog discusses how COVID-19 has resulted in an increased lack of access to sanitary products, disrupted access to sanitation facilities and clean water, and amplified the already present stigma surrounding menstruation.
How has COVID-19 impacted the lack of access to sanitary products?
Due to a series of shipping delays and regulation changes, particularly in the early days of the pandemic, there were major disruptions in global supply chains. Although shipping delays are still prevalent, adaptations have been made to lessen these disruptions. This meant that the delivery of sanitary goods was slowed down, particularly in more remote, rural areas, resulting in a lack of access to these products.
The pandemic has led to an increase in prices of sanitary products, inflated due to the demand and the potential decreased supply. Some suppliers are opportunistically increasing their prices. In this report by Plan International, 58% of WASH professionals reported that menstrual hygiene products had become more expensive since the pandemic began.. Furthermore, due to the pandemic, household incomes were likely to decrease leaving people less money to buy sanitary products. 73% of WASH professionals said that access and distribution of menstrual sanitary products have been hampered by COVID-19. The combination of increasing prices, delayed shipping and decreasing income contributed to the increasing lack of access to sanitary products as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This lack of access may lead to women using unhygienic alternatives and methods in order to manage their periods.
How has COVID-19 disrupted access to sanitation facilities and clean water?
COVID-19 has led to disrupted access to sanitation facilities. Public toilets are vital as they have clean water to wash, toilet doors for privacy and adequate means of menstruation product disposal. Many of these are now closed due to COVID-19 safety concerns or women are simply not near these due to lack of travel due to the pandemic. 68% of WASH professionals report access to facilities to help girls manage their periods have been disrupted as a consequence of the pandemic.
COVID-19 has also impacted access to clean water. Clean water is essential in order to manage menstruation in an effective and hygienic way. For those already struggling to gain access to clean water, their struggle was likely intensified as a result of COVID-19. In their report, ‘Periods in a Pandemic’, Plan International explains that “the pandemic has placed restrictions on movement which pose challenges, particularly for women and girls, who are often responsible for collecting household water, walking considerable distances to do so. With COVID-19 intensifying household water needs in water-scarce environments and with lockdown reducing access to water, women and girls may not prioritize water for their menstruation needs.”.
How has COVID-19 impacted the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation?
In many communities around the world, there is a prevalent social stigma surrounding menstruation. Periods are often associated with feelings of shame and secrecy and those who menstruate are perceived as impure. COVID-19 has worked to amplify this stigma in many societies, creating an even more uncomfortable and vulnerable environment for those who experience menstruation. 24% of WASH professionals said that they noticed an increase in stigma associated with menstrual health management during the COVID-19 pandemic and 17% of girls surveyed in the Pacific said that they felt more embarrassed regarding their periods through the pandemic. Menstrual stigma is very ingrained in society through generations of myths and misconceptions. To restrict the stigma it must be talked about consistently, particularly by big names who have influence.The focus on healthcare and mitigation of COVID-19 has shifted the focus away from period poverty in many societies, allowing traditions of shaming and disgust to rise once again.
COVID-19 has impacted period poverty in a negative way, amplifying all the factors that result in period poverty. Prior to the pandemic, period poverty was a pressing issue but the significance of the issue has only been increased as a consequence of the pandemic.
Saathi aims to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 through our #OneMillionPads campaign in association with Tattv Bodh Foundation,, accelerating access to safe, eco-friendly menstrual products and menstrual hygiene for girls and women in underserved areas.
Thank you for joining us through the Period Poverty series. We urge everyone reading to stay open and engage in conversation about period poverty. Breaking the taboo and supporting those in underserved areas is essential in fighting period poverty.
- Menstrual Hygiene Day | Challenges and Saathi's Impact
- What is Period Poverty and How Saathi Addresses it in India
- Why is a Sustainable Solution Essential to Creating Period Equity?
Saathi, an award-winning social venture has patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. It is known for its 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made from banana and bamboo fibers. Saathi pads are better for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to make products sustainably and responsibly.
We are recognized by the New York Times Climate Hub, UNESCO Green Citizens project, University of St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation, and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact, and sustainable work. We are working towards 9 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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!
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- Every contribution from you makes us eligible to matching rewards
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Visit Give India - 1 M pads - Tattv Bodh Foundation to extend your support!