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What is period poverty and why is this important to Citizens Advice Stevenage?

Our Community Development Lead, Victoria pictured right.

Period poverty is struggling to afford the most basic menstrual hygiene products every month. This is the harsh reality for many women and AFAB people facing period poverty.

a survey commissioned by ActionAid in 2022 showed that 12% of people had struggled to afford products for either themselves or a dependent in the past six months.

Of those who surveyed by ActionAid who have stated that they have have struggled to afford menstrual products in the last six months, 75% said they had prioritised spending money on food. 49% had prioritised gas/electric, and 31% prioritised fuel over any form of menstrual product.

Period poverty is a global issue where a lack of financial resources prevents individuals from accessing proper menstrual products. This can lead to using unsanitary alternatives and even forgoing protection altogether, resulting in health and emotional consequences. The actionaid survey identified the worrying lengths women and AFAB people are going to to ensure that they have enough products.

Nearly half (46%) of women who struggled to afford sanitary products in the last 6 months kept sanitary pads or tampons in for longer, or used tissues (46%). 10% doubled up their underwear.

Sustainable menstrual products can offer a lifeline to those facing period poverty

and include;

  • cups,

  • cloth pads,

  • period-proof underwear,

  • plastic free pads and tampons,

  • compostable sanitary products,

Reusable products can cut the cost of disposable items, easing the financial burden, they can reduce waste and promote sustainability, and they potentially provide a more comfortable and hassle-free experience.

Hertfordshire has a reduced cost reusable period product scheme which runs alongside the cloth nappy scheme for all Hertfordshire residents.

One major obstacle in fighting period poverty is the stigma round menstruation. according to the ActionAid survey, more than a quarter of women have experienced negative comments about their periods (26%). More than one in ten women experienced these kinds of comments from their current or ex-partner (11%). initiatives like this one are helping normalise the discussion and make menstrual products more accessible.

education of advisers and support staff within our organisation ensure that holistic and well rounded advice is given to all clients, and we reduce the stigmas around period poverty.

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