The worst period of her life: putting myself in her shoes | ActionAid UK

How does a girl cope with her period during a humanitarian crisis? Our appeal "The worst period of her life" aims to help women retain their dignity during the hardest times in their lives.

Mugunga refugee camp, the Democratic Republic of Congo
Mugunga refugee camp, the Democratic Republic of Congo

Many of us have been there, caught short of sanitary products – tampons, menstrual cups or sanitary towels – at the worst possible time: at work, travelling, during an important event. It’s frustrating and can ruin your day.

So much so, that in a survey published this week*, almost half of British women admitted they would not to go to work if they found themselves on their period and unable to get hold of sanitary products.

Feeling unclean and the fear of visible stains 

This doesn’t surprise me. I can imagine how uncomfortable I would be in the office, stressing about feeling unclean and the fear of visible stains when I’m in a long meeting.

It seems I’m not alone, as fear of stains and feeling unclean were seen to be some of the worst impacts of not having access to sanitary products for British women*.

So if we consider what a negative effect this has on the lives of many British women, for a moment please think about what it would be like for women and girls in refugee camps.

Travelling long distances is a reality for thousands of refugees

One in four British women believe the worst time to get a period would be while travelling long distances. I’ve been there. It’s not nice.

Now, imagine being in the shoes of a refugee, perhaps a young girl who has fled her home with few or no belongings. She has limited access to water or soap and has to travel long distances often on foot. When she gets her period, the chances are she has no sanitary products either. She has to cope with this on top of everything else.

Could you?

We work to ensure women and girls retain their dignity

Women are particularly vulnerable during humanitarian disasters. ActionAid have distributed sanitary kits to women and girls who have fled their homes in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We’ve also distributed 3,000 sanitary kits to women affected by flooding in Afghanistan. We are working to ensure that women and girls retain their dignity during the worst periods of their lives

Now you have put yourself in their shoes, we’re asking you to donate to help women and girls access clean and safe sanitary towels in a humanitarian disaster.

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1181 British women (aged 18+) of which 606 are currently working and menstruate. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th — 16th May. The survey was carried out online.