Last November, in a first for Australia, the Victorian state government announced that it would introduce free pads and tampons in government schools.
The UK announced a similar measure in March, while earlier in the year, Scotland expanded its scheme to provide free sanitary items in libraries and leisure centres, on top of schools and universities.
Tuesday 28th May is World Menstrual Hygiene Day and it is vital that today, and everyday, we acknowledge that period poverty and period stigma is a massive problem for girls and women worldwide.
Susanne Legena, CEO of Plant International Australia, said few people in Australia realise that period poverty is a serious problem. Part of the reason for this is that it’s hidden from view due to stigma.
“Girls everywhere face bulling and discrimination and are missing school, because they can’t afford menstrual hygiene products,” said Legena.
“Plan International Australia is calling for state governments to follow Victoria’s lead and introduce free pads and tampons in all Australian schools, so that no girl misses out on education and suffers disadvantage.”
Research from Plan International, a leading girls’ rights agency, has found that on a global scale, period stigma is rife. In the UK, 71 per cent of women felt uncomfortable discussing their period with male peers. In the Solomon Islands, 52 per cent still had questions and worries about menstruation. In Uganda, 28 per cent of girls miss school when they are menstruating and only 12 per cent of girls and women in India have access to sanitary products.
“It’s concerning that in 2019, we’re still not comfortable talking about periods. Every month hundreds of millions of girls and women menstruate around the world. Yet, we still treat this normal biological process as ‘secret women’s business’,” Legena added.
“We’re working to smash that stigma and to ensure all girls and women have access to appropriate products and can discuss their periods openly and without fear.”
In exciting news, Plan International have successfully campaigned for a period emoji to be included in the global emoji keyboard, giving girls and women a new, stigma-free way to talk about their periods.
We are thrilled to announce that we are actually getting a #PeriodEmoji!
— PlanInternational UK (@PlanUK) February 6, 2019