Tampons and coins

What is Period Poverty and How Can You Help?

Shannon Ridgway

You may have heard the phrase “period poverty” – an ongoing and prevalent issue that affects women, girls, transgender and non-binary folks worldwide. But what does it mean exactly, and what can you do to help?

What is period poverty? 

Period poverty is a lack of access to basic menstrual products like pads and tampons – as well as to menstrual-adjacent products like over-the-counter painkillers, bathroom facilities, soap, etc. – everything that keeps people clean, sanitary, and comfortable during that time of the month. 

Without access to proper products, folks resort to using whatever they have on hand – scraps, paper, rags, even cardboard – or are forced to go without protection of any kind. As you can imagine, this creates a variety of issues, from embarrassment and shame to poor hygiene and missed opportunities.

Facts about period poverty 

For those of us who’ve never had to worry about being able to afford tampons and pads, period poverty may seem like a distant issue. But the truth is that it’s a global problem. Period poverty impacts over 2 billion people worldwide, with around 10% of women affected by it at any given time in the U.S. – where it’s estimated that 1 in 5 girls miss school due to their periods and 1 in 10 college students do

Who’s affected by it?

Low-income women and girls, as well as transgender and non-binary folks who menstruate, suffer from period poverty when they can’t afford menstrual-related products. This includes: 

  • Homeless people
  • Schoolchildren 
  • People in prison
  • Others without access to resources 

What causes it?

One of the main drivers behind period poverty is the taboo that surrounds it. Even today, menstruation is still often viewed as dirty and gross – something to suffer in silence.

This sense of shame creates severe economic consequences as well – those affected stay home from work, activities, and school because they don’t have the proper protection and are worried about leakage. But due to the stigma, they’re too embarrassed to ask for help…and so are forced to continue without access to products. Thus, the stigma is reinforced and the shame cycle continues. 

To make matters worse, menstrual products aren’t covered by SNAP benefits as they’re not considered an essential need – something that’s hard to imagine when it’s a biological function that affects over half the population. 

How to help end period poverty

Period poverty is a widespread, global problem with no easy solution. But consistent, ongoing efforts can go a long way in creating change. Here’s what you can do to get started.

Spread awareness

Talking about it is the first step in reducing the stigma around the topic of periods in general. You can start by being more open when discussing your period – it’s a normal part of life, so let’s normalize it. 

You can also spread awareness digitally. Follow period-related companies on social media to watch for and participate in virtual campaigns. This is a great way to spread #periodpositivity and #endperiodpoverty, particularly during Menstrual Hygiene Day

Participate in monetary campaigns and donate

In addition to spreading awareness, you can also participate in campaigns that donate to the cause. In fact, just by purchasing through our site you can help those in need! For every purchase order, Joyja donates a pair of panties to a person in need. Check out our various styles and absorbency levels to get started. 

Joyja panties donation boxes

The impact of donations

Donating to period causes has a huge impact on reducing the number of people dealing with period poverty at any given time – an issue that’s only become worse during the current pandemic

Joyja is proud to support the nonprofit groups who collect supplies to donate to those in need. These include organizations like I Support the Girls, who work with other advocacy groups to donate bras and menstrual products to homeless women so they don’t have to choose between food and menstrual supplies. 

And since periods aren’t just for women and girls, we also work with G.L.I.T.S. – Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society – an organization that helps these marginalized groups with the many issues they face, including access to healthcare and supplies.

When women, girls, and all who get their periods have access to menstrual supplies and hygiene, everyone benefits: economies improve, stigma and shame are reduced, and – most importantly – the people affected are able to improve their quality of life.