All around the world, girls living through conflict are forced to live in dangerous and unhygienic conditions, with no access to sanitary products.
But no girl, anywhere, should be held back because of her period.
Wesal was only 9 years old when her mother was killed in an airstrike on their house in Syria and her father was arrested.
Devastated, her grandmother, Azziza fled to the border taking Wesal and her three sisters into Jordan, in the hope of protecting them from more violence.
With young children to look after and a leg injury from the conflict, Azziza is doing her best to support her young granddaughters in Jordan. But it is very hard as she is unable to work and they are living on a limited income. Every month, Azziza faces the heartbreaking choice of buying sanitary towels or food for them.
ActionAid is helping women and girls like Wesal in Jordan, and in countries across the world where conflict and disasters are stopping them from accessing clean and safe sanitary products. No girl should have to choose between sanitary protection and food.
By providing sanitary pads, a safe place to wash and information on reproductive health, we are helping to keep girls healthy and in school.
A regular gift from you could help ActionAid support women and girls like Wesal to manage their periods with dignity every month.
If you give a monthly donation…
Give a regular gift to help women and girls living in conflict situations
Why are we asking for a monthly gift?
Every donation counts, and we’re grateful for whatever you feel you can afford. A one-off donation is a fantastic start, but issues that women and girls face, like violence and poverty, are long-term problems, and they need long-term solutions. Regular donations mean we can commit to working with women and girls for as long as it takes.
A monthly gift from you allows us to make ambitious plans, and invest in the futures of young girls and their communities. It means we can make a real, sustainable difference to the lives of women and girls. Please help us to change lives, for good.
What we do
When a disaster strikes, women and girls tell us that amongst the items that they need are sanitary towels, wipes and soap. Without these products, they are forced to use improvised methods to manage their periods including torn pieces of clothing, rags or dirty rugs. This can be ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic.
That is why we provide sanitary kits in our humanitarian response work, alongside other essentials including food, water and shelter.
We have distributed sanitary towels in crises as wide-ranging as the Nepal earthquakes of 2015, in Jordan and in Greece as part of our response to the Syrian refugee crisis and in East Africa during the food crisis of 2017.
They are often distributed at our Women Friendly Spaces, which we set up in the aftermath of disasters to provide a safe space for women and girls who may be at risk of violence.
How we use the money you give us
For every £1 we spend:
72p is spent on programme activity, including humanitarian and development work
12p is spent on fundraising
9p is spent on support costs (running the organisation)
7p is spent on campaigning for change
These figures are taken from our expenditure in 2016.
We’re committed to keeping our supporters happy and being open and honest about how we fundraise. To find out more you can read our supporter promise.
Why can't I donate sanitary products?
ActionAid always tries to source sanitary products as locally as possible. Sourcing goods in this way helps us to cut down on costs whilst ensuring that the items we provide are appropriate for the local environment and culture. This not only supports the local and national economy but also facilitates a more efficient response, as it means we don’t have to depend on regional postal systems.
In non-emergencies, we also work with communities on a case by case basis to determine the best solution for women and girls within that community. Sometimes that means helping to provide disposable sanitary products, other times it may mean providing women with the tools to create their own reusable sanitary towels and to be able to use them hygienically.
What do women in humanitarian crises use when they don't have sanitary pads?
During humanitarian disasters, women and girls are often forced to use whatever they can to manage their periods, including rags, newspapers and even tree bark. They tell us that one of the things they need the most are sanitary towels and underwear, so they can manage their periods hygienically and with dignity.
For women who are able to access sanitary towels, many have no choice but to re-use them for many days. This can be psychologically distressing, uncomfortable and even dangerous, putting them at a serious risk of infection.
Find out answers to the most frequently asked questions about periods and our work.
Top image: Wesal escaped Syria with her grandmother and sisters when conflict broke out. Sharron Lovell/ActionAid
Page updated 10 December 2021