Although solution suggestions for menstrual period needs have diversified with the development of technologies, menstrual poverty is an issue that has not changed since Ancient Egypt - when the seeds of menstrual products were sown - until today.
We wanted to examine together this global problem, which has only just begun to be talked about in our country and has yet to create a space for itself in social responsibility campaigns.
What is menstrual poverty?
Menstrual poverty; It covers the problems of menstruating individuals not being able to access menstrual products such as pads and tampons, clean water resources and education services that they need during their menstrual cycles due to financial inadequacy and related situations.
According to research, at least 500 thousand women around the world cannot go to school, work, or perform their daily life practices due to menstrual poverty. Naturally, this issue is among the important issues that need to be resolved on the world agenda.
Menstrual poverty in Turkey
In Turkey, the first comprehensive study on people experiencing menstrual poverty started in January 2022. In our opinion, it is a given that whether or not access to menstrual products is sufficient is not even a matter of research.
If we look at what we have; According to the report published by the Deep Poverty Network after the pandemic; In 82 out of 103 poor households, hygiene products cannot be accessed without any assistance. Women see these products as luxury. Seasonal agricultural workers, refugees, and women and girls living in poor parts of big cities struggle most with this poverty.
For example; Seasonal agricultural workers in Adana have to combine pieces of newspaper and use them as pads because they cannot access pads during their menstrual periods.
Of course, there are positive developments in the world and in our country.
Scotland in November 2020; It became the first country to aim to eliminate menstrual poverty and oblige local governments to distribute these products free of charge to everyone in need, and 11 more countries took action along with it.
What can we say, good luck :)
Legislative proposals that will eliminate menstrual poverty in Turkey have not yet been accepted. In parallel, non-governmental organizations continue their work. Those who are curious can access the social media accounts of the We Need to Talk Association from the bibliography.
So what can we do as individuals with awareness about this issue?
- We can follow non-governmental organizations fighting menstrual poverty and take a volunteer role in projects.
- By talking more about menstruation, we can contribute to the normalization of menstruation.
- We can inform individuals who will experience menstruation for the first time on how to purchase hygiene products.
- Although the VAT rate applied to menstrual and hygiene products will be reduced from 18% to 8% as of March 29, 2022, we can continue to be a part of the struggle until this rate is reset.
As Scottish Labor Party MP Monica Lennon, who presented the bill in Scotland, said, " Menstruation does not stop in the pandemic. Therefore, ensuring public access to tampons, pads and reusable products has never been more important. "