Let's End Period Poverty Together
We've all been there – lying like a starfish in bed after popping two Advil's, praying that the cramps will stop, wondering why the universe decided to give you a uterus. You curl up into the fetal position because maybe that will feel better. Your cat jumps on the bed and stares at you with its big cartoon-like eyes and you start crying because your cat is the cutest thing in the whole world and you couldn't imagine living without it.
All of the above is part of the beauty of menstruating. And while for a lot of us heavy cramps and heavy flows are as extreme as it gets when it comes to bleeding out of our hooha, there's an entire demographic of people who have more things to worry about.
More than 800 million people menstruate daily, and of those some–globally– are worrying about things like having to miss work because they don't have feminine hygiene products, or skipping groceries this week in order to afford a box of tampons.
So friend, thank you for clicking on this article because we are about to share with you a bit about us, a company that donates feminine hygiene products to those in need, as well as where you can donate period products to help us in our mission to end period poverty.
Period Poverty is not a third world problem, it is very much an 'our world' problem – meaning that yes, it exists in our very own backyard. A study conducted by Plan International showed that 34% of women and girls in Canada have had to sacrifice something else within their budget to afford menstrual products. In the US two thirds of low-income women could not afford menstrual products in the last year, while nearly half had to choose between buying food or menstrual products.
When it comes to companies that donate feminine hygiene products, we, Modern Match Lingerie, started collecting menstrual hygiene donations as part of an annual campaign. Originally we partnered up with the United Way of Northern British Columbia, Canada, to support our local community of women. However, we knew the problem was at a global level, so we decided to take our campaign worldwide! We are now calling on people from across the globe who can afford to donate period products, to do so at the places we've listed further down in this article.
What Is Period Poverty?
As stated above, women all over the globe struggle with how they’re going to
care for themselves while on their periods. Period poverty is the inability to afford or purchase menstrual products. Leaving people with no other option but to resort to precarious methods of absorbing menstrual blood such as using socks, paper towels, cotton balls, etc., or missing out on things such as school, work, and sports.
There is a wide misconception that period poverty is something that doesn't happen in North America, but he inability to purchase proper menstrual hygiene products is a global issue. The incapacity to purchase these products leaves 63% of women and girls regularly or occasionally missing an activity. No person should ever have to go through that! Every person who menstruates should have access to period necessity's when they need them in order to bleed with dignity, and sanitation.
Hygiene & Periods
What's In Our Period Blood?
Frist and foremost, periods are not gross, let's get that out of our heads. It's our
bodies natural response to not being pregnant, and is pretty cool that it naturally rids itself of what it doesn't need.
As for what's in our period blood? There's a little blood, some good ol' uterus lining, mucus, and bacteria as well.
Poor Menstrual Hygiene
While a lot of us may have access to clean bathrooms and an endless supply of tampons, pads, liners, diva cups, etc. We have to remember the other side of the coin, a lot of people don't have any of those things. Not having access to period products can lead to desperation, and could leave women resorting to unruly methods of stopping the flow.
So what can happen if objects that are not meant for menstrual hygiene are introduced to the vaginal canal, or our vulvas? Let us tell you:
- UTI's show up when bacteria is introduced to the urethra. If left unattended this could lead to kidney issues and at it's highest severity, death
- Growth of bacteria in that area could lead to an infection causing harm to the vulva & vaginal canal
- You could alter your vaginal PH level. A high PH level is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, once again leading to a potential infection
- Susceptibility to cervical cancer can increase with reproductive tract infections and UTI's
- Unhygienic practices could lead to infertility
Why There’s Shame Around Periods
Do you remember getting teased for being on your period? You're not alone. In the study conducted by Plan International, 41% of female respondents said
they’d occasionally or regularly been subject to teasing by a male in relation to their periods, including family members, friends, colleagues, and relatives.
It seems ridiculous that anyone would shame anybody for a bodily function that people literally have no control over.
So why the shame?
In summary...probably because some white male somewhere said "ew, hide that shit – oh, and go live elsewhere until it ends." Okay that wasn't factual at all, but just a hunch. ;)
There are years, years, yyeeearrss of religious and cultural beliefs behind the shame women feel around their periods. From linking periods to the moon to determining that women were ‘unclean’ during this time. Some cultures even going as far as banishing women from their homes when they’re on their periods. A practice that leaves women vulnerable to illness, assault, and even death in some cases. (This practice has been banned in several countries, however, continues to be practiced illegally in some smaller communities.) In some areas of the world menstruation was something that needed to be hidden, tucked away, and not spoken about – many women were and still are embarrassed to speak of it.
The good news? It's not all bad, some Ancient Roman philosopher wrote about how he believed periods gave women the strength to ward off hail and lightning – move out of the way Zeus, cause hormones and period blood are ruling the sky now, buddy.
While there were some incredible abilities women were coined with for bleeding out of their vaginas, it seems like it was all clouded over by the negative – something we suppose was to be expected because women can't have too much power, right? *insert eyeroll* #Endthepatriarchy
The First Period Commercial Ever
The fact is that these beliefs, surrounding shame, are still so deeply rooted in our lives. A prime example of this is the fact that the FIRST TV tampon commercial to EVER make it's debut was in 1975. NINETEEN-SEVENTY-FIVE! Only fifty years ago.
Up until that point everyone was super hush-hush about their periods. It wasn't something to be discussed, and GOD FORBID you got your period in the middle of your English 12 class –UGH the walk of shame you'd do all the way to the bathroom! One could argue that this may have been the OG walk of shame in the lives of women. You know the one. Secretly pulling out a tampon packaged in bright yellow plastic, sneaking it up your sleeve, or into your bra, or in a pant side pocket, only to raise your hand shakily and hope no one saw you tuck it away, before asking the teacher if you may be excused.
In summary men just didn't want to know that we bled out of our pussy's. So their fix was to shame us and make us feel embarrassed, so much so that to this day that we are still feeling the repercussions. Think about it, if the roles were reversed and men were bleeding out of their dicks...not only would this not be an issue...but dick pads, and dick tampons would probably be free. *mic drop*
Ending The Period Stigma
First and foremost, get talking! The more you talk about periods in various
settings, the fewer people need to feel shame over the subject. Let’s make talking periods, as casual as talking about the weather.
Hats off to national campaigns such as the one run by U by Kotex in which they encourage women to not feel shame or the need to hide their periods, by featuring brightly packaged tampons – a great way to make some noise and remind people who menstruate that there's no shame!
Secondly, find companies you love that donate feminine hygiene products to their local/ global charities! Modern Match Lingerie is just one of several brands that is hard at work raising awareness, funds, and period products to help end the crisis.
Third, find local charities or local women’s organizations you can support! From local women’s shelters, transitions homes, or a local charity that’s specifically fighting the battle against period poverty!
Why Is Supporting Period Poverty Campaigns Important?
We hear it a lot "we've come really far." In a lot of aspects we have and in a lot of aspects, we've dropped the ball immensely. When it comes to periods and ensuring that everyone who bleeds has the proper access to the basic necessities of pads, tampons and liners etc., we greatly lack. As people who menstruate, we know the struggle of irregular periods, heavy periods, surprise periods, cramps that knock you down, or periods that feel like a breeze, and more.
Because we know the struggle, we need to collectively band together and support the women who need it most. For a lot of us the struggle might be "do I wear white pants if I'm on my period?" For a lot of others that may turn into "do I even put pants on? – No, I'll just stay home." A good reminder to keep in the back of our minds.
Here's How You Can Help: Where To Donate Feminine Hygiene Products
Veronica Beltran - Veronica Beltran is a former newsy turned Marketing lover! She spends her time creating email campaigns, marketing strategies, social media content, and blogs, at Modern Match Lingerie. She has a passion for writing, loves sharing her vegan eats on social media and creates Youtube reviews on her spare time. Connect with Veronica here.