Although the solution offers for menstrual period needs have diversified with the development of technologies, menstrual poverty is a subject that has not changed since Ancient Egypt - from the times when the seeds of menstrual products were planted - to the present day.
We wanted to examine together this global problem, which has only just begun to be talked about in our country and which 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 they need during their menstrual cycle due to financial inadequacy and related conditions.
According to researches, at least 500 thousand women around the world are unable to go to school, work or perform their daily life practices due to the poverty of their menstrual cycles. As such, 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 data that whether access to menstrual products is sufficient or not is not even the subject 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 reached without any assistance. Women see these products as luxury. Seasonal agricultural workers, refugees and women and girls living in poor areas of big cities struggle with this poverty the most.
For example; Seasonal agricultural workers in Adana are forced to combine pieces of newspaper and use them as pads because they cannot access pads during their menstrual period.
Of course, there are positive developments in the world and in our country.
Scotland in November 2020; It became the first country that aims to eliminate menstrual poverty and obliges local governments to distribute these products free of charge to anyone in need, and 11 more countries took action.
What can we say, millet on our head :)
Legislation that will eliminate menstrual poverty in Turkey has not yet been adopted. 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 on this issue?
- We can follow non-governmental organizations struggling with menstrual poverty and take a voluntary 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 they can purchase hygiene products.
- Although the VAT rate applied to menstrual and hygiene products has been 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 Monica Lennon, MP for the Scottish Labor Party, who introduced the bill in Scotland, said, " Menstruation does not stop during the pandemic. Therefore, it has never been more important to ensure the public's access to tampons, pads and reusable products. "