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How is period poverty affecting girls in Africa?

POSTED August 23, 2022

How is period poverty affecting girls in Africa?

Find out how vulnerable girls struggle to access education due to their monthly cycle

Girls walking away in Burkina Faso

It was already common for vulnerable women in rural Africa to have difficulty accessing feminine hygiene information, products and toilets, but now, due to inflation, the situation is getting worse, amplifying what’s called period poverty. 

The cost of sanitary products has risen in the Sub-Saharan region, with reports from Thomson Reuters Foundation that inflation has increased to about 32 percent in Ghana.

“I skip school because once I stained my uniform, and the boys teased me. It has affected my confidence,” Opoku, a 15-year-old from Ghana’s Ashanti Region, is reported as saying by Thomson Reuters Foundation. She added: “Sanitary pads are very expensive.”

The World Bank notes that an estimated one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their period. “By some estimates, this equals as much as 20 percent of a given school year,” reported the World Bank, citing a UNESCO report.

This challenge is causing girls to drop out or use unhygienic alternatives, such as paper or old rags, which can cause infection and infertility.

And, as period poverty gets worse, parents and caregivers will likely focus on spending money on food to support their families, forgoing medicine and sanitary products.

There has been pressure for African countries to remove taxes on feminine products and/or make them free for schoolgirls, but only a few countries — such as Kenya and Rwanda — have made this change.

At Children Believe, we recognize the issue of period poverty and help women and girls access essential healthcare so they can stay in school and continue their education. In India, we helped launch a production facility for sanitary pads to support women physically while giving them a regular income.

You can help end period poverty. Give a feminine hygiene gift today.

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