Period doesn’t stop during the pandemic. Raising awareness about period positivity and decreasing stigma are the first steps to ending period poverty and creating sustainable periods in the future.
Covid-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on menstrual health and hygiene. Locked down, closed borders, shuttered of schools and businesses have triggered what has been described as a “sanitary pad crisis” for everyone who menstruates. Here are some facts about periods that happen around Asia :
1. Severe Sanitary Products Shortage
In some parts of India, schools are a critical part of the supply chain, providing a pack of sanitary pads to girls each month. With school closed, along with other supply chain issues, as few as 15% of girls had access to sanitary pads during the lockdown. udden and complete lockdown on March 24. This put an immediate stop to the monthly supply of pads that millions of adolescent girls received via their schools. The school closures meant many girls are no longer able to access menstrual products to manage their period properly.
At the same time, the production of sanitary pads also came to a screeching halt for seven days, which lead to stockouts in several locations. Panic buying just before the lockdown have left many menstruators struggling to find sanitary products.
2. periods dont stop for frontlines and healthcare staffs
Around 70 per cent of frontlines and healthcare staffs are women. Just like everyone else, they need adequate access to menstrual health supplies. To effectively respond to the pandemic, they work long hours under intense pressure. Shift work, busy schedule and panic buying have left some frontline workers struggling to find sanitary products.
Even more, putting on and removing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) prevents the quick changing of menstrual hygiene materials, leading women to bleed into protective suits, suppress menstruation through the use of oral contraceptive pills, or potentially miss days of work.
3. Lack of information about menstrual health and hygiene
As education and health services have been disrupted by pandemic, so has the flow of basic information about menstrual health and hygiene. The adolescent health clinics that were intended to be safe spaces for adolescents to seek sexual and reproductive health care were running lean already and have now been shut down completely.
What worse ? harmful menstruation traditions leave many menstruators vulnerable to the pandemic. Some cultures prohibit women and girls from touching or washing their genitals during menstruation, possibly contributing to infections. In other places, women and girls are fearful that their bodies could pollute water sources or toilets. Under the pandemic, these traditions could affect people’s ability to protect themselves against COVID-19 and worsen the situation
HOW should we respond to this – The future of periods
I believe that menstrual health knowledge is a human right and not privilege. Refusing to talk and discuss about menstruation and menstrual justice contribute to the ignorance and illiteracy of menstrual health awareness. Each of us have an active role to Dispel myths and providing accurate information about menstrual health and menstrual equity. Here are some ways you can get involved in to help period poverty in your community :
- Donate / sponsor sustainable period product such as reusable pads or period cups
- Talk openly about healthy, dignified and sustainable periods
- Share this article to friends and family
- Support your skills/ time/monetarily to local organisations that working to help fight period poverty