Period poverty | ActionAid

Period poverty


1 in 10
One in 10 girls in Africa miss school because they don’t have access to sanitary products, or because there aren’t safe, private toilets to use at school.1

In Kenya alone, approximately 50 percent of school-age girls do not have access to sanitary products2

In India, approximately 12 percent of its 355 million menstruating women cannot afford period products.3

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What is period poverty?

Period poverty is a global issue affecting women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products, and/or who are unable to manage their periods with dignity, sometimes due to community stigma and sanction.

It doesn’t just refer to those who have no access to sanitary products — in some cases, women and girls have limited access, leading to prolonged use of the same tampons or pads, which can cause infection.1

Around the world, consequences of period poverty can include:

  • Girls often miss one or more days of school during their periods, which negatively impacts their education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, some girls will miss as much as 20% of their school year; some may drop out of school altogether.4 The loss of education can mean girls are more likely to be forced into child marriage.
  • Women and girls’ health may be put at risk, as they are forced to use dirty rags which can cause infection. Risks can be greater if the women or girl has undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).5
  • Due to community stigma women and girls may feel persistent shame and fear during periods,6 and in some cases face social sanctions such as chhaupadi in Nepal
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How ActionAid tackles period poverty

  • ActionAid trains women and girls to make safe, reusable sanitary pads so they always have access to clean and affordable sanitary products. 
  • In our girls’ clubs and safe spaces in schools, we provide information about periods, sex and pregnancy, so girls are better informed about their bodies. 
  • During humanitarian emergencies, we provide hygiene kits containing sanitary towels, soap and clean underwear, to help women and girls manage their periods safely. 
  • We’re working with local communities to end the practice of chhaupadi — a period-shaming tradition in Nepal — for good. 

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Period poverty

Reusable sanitary pads made by women in Malawi


Page updated 12 August 2019