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Period Poverty: Every Week Counts, Period.

POSTED May 27, 2024

Period Poverty: Every Week Counts, Period.

By Natalie Preddie, Children Believe Ambassador

Natalie in Ethiopia
Natalie Preddie in Adama, Ethiopia

Unfortunately, the first emotions most people feel when they hear the word “period” are embarrassment, discomfort or shame. Many women and girls have yet to feel empowered when they think about their period.

The World Bank reports that on any given day, more than 300 million girls and women worldwide are menstruating[1] and on average most people will have their periods for about 40 years of their life[2]. This is a very long time…especially when one feels embarrassed or uncomfortable about this natural part of womanhood. The way people feel about periods is often influenced by cultural, societal, and personal factors. In some cultures, menstruation is still considered a taboo. Millions of girls worldwide struggle to afford menstrual hygiene products due to period poverty, a situation where girls lack access to menstrual products and proper hygiene facilities to comfortably manage their period.

Period Poverty and “Sex for Hygiene Products” stealing choices

Embarrassing situations like leaks, odors and infections due to inadequate products such as dirty rags, leaves, or newspapers further isolates girls experiencing period poverty. Because of this, girls are unable to attend school, work or other social activities. Feelings of shame and powerlessness overshadows their lives and consequently, impactful life choices. In some cases, some adolescent girls do not attend school for up to one week each month, causing them to fall further behind in their studies, failing and repeating classes and/r eventually dropping out of school. Often, these girls are faced with the monumental choice of attending school or managing their periods at home to avoid embarrassment.

Many girls experiencing period poverty are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation. In some communities like Northern Ghana, where Children Believe are present, boys offer to buy girls hygiene products in exchange for sexual favours.

“Sometimes your parents do not have money to buy you pads, and if you don’t get pads, sometimes a boy can just take advantage of you and give you what you want…” says Barika, a 17-year-old student in Ghana.

Another student Taiba, a 17-year-old, reports that “Some of our parents don’t have money to provide all these things for us, so if a girl is mature and she’s getting her menstruation, she can go to boys to give her money to get all these things and the boys will not give her money for free, so she might end up getting pregnant.”

In addition to long-term harm like sexually transmitted diseases and violence, this abuse increases the risk of teenage pregnancy, forcing vulnerable girls to drop out of school, and consequently, trap these girls in the cycle of poverty.

The Solution: Every girl deserves a life full of choices to live fearlessly

Good menstrual hygiene is key for women and girls to lead healthy and empowered lives. Every girl deserves a life full of choices to live fearlessly. To defend the choices for the 1.8 billion people who menstruate each month, girls need access to hygiene products, health services, education and dignity.

Children Believe works with communities and schools to empower women and girls with choices to live the life they choose to live with dignity and respect. Through their programs they provide access to menstrual hygiene education, products and facilities, giving girls more choices to continue their education and fully participate in society.

Natalie with girls football club at Goro Secondary School in Adama, Ethiopia

Our Ambition: Until every girl lives the life she chooses to live during their periods 

Until every girl lives the life she chooses to live during their periods, Children Believe remains committed to providing women and girls with access to choices that preserve their dignity, respect, health, education, equality and life during their periods.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th 2024, Children Believe is asking you to join us in providing choices to girls by buying a “Female Hygiene Kit”, sharing their social media posts,  and continue to educate others about the severity of period poverty, and how we can truly see change.

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REFERENCE :

[1] https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/brief/menstrual-health-and-hygiene

[2] https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle#references

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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