Period Poverty: An echo of a society trotted with gendered inequalities

Although period poverty can easily be defined as the inability to afford sanitary wears and products during menstruation, what cannot be exhaustively defined is the ripple effect of this type of poverty on women.

Women do not only have to deal with the lack of essential sanitary product, they are also having to deal with the consequences of this lack, these consequences may include depression, lack of confidence, poor participation, school/work absenteeism and diseases resulting from poor hygiene amongst others.

A bigger picture of the above consequences trickles down to poverty. Period poverty only exists because poverty existed first. Women do not have sufficient money to buy sanitary products because they cannot survive on their wages or because those in the rural communities are not even enlightened, again lack of access to education which can be said to be a by-product of period poverty. Like a cycle, it keeps going on until it is broken.

In light of this, the Global Shapers Community, Lagos hub – a youth initiative of World Economic Forum, embarked on the End Period Poverty (EPP) project with the aim to raise awareness on challenges associated with menstruation and how this may affect the perceived competence of girls/women at school or in the workplace. The hub collaborated with Global shapers in Diaspora to pilot the EPP project with a debut event at Onala community, an undeserved area in Lagos Island, Lagos state.

The event featured fascinating discussions about stigma around menstrual periods with interesting panelists like Fatima Ajimobi, Founder and Managing Director, Let’s Talk Humanity Initiative; Dami Odufuwa, Media Professional; Amanda Iheme, Psychotherapist and Founder, NDIDI; Sonia Irabor, Filmmaker and Editor for Genevieve Magazine and Tito Ovia, Co-founder and Executive Director Helium Health, also recently named as Forbes 30 under 30. In attendance were over 50 volunteers and about 100 girls from Onala community. During the event, the girls with ages between 12 and 17, were cheered to speak more openly about their periods as it is not a disease as well as discourage school absenteeism by persuading them to be confident during their menstrual cycle. At the end of the occasion, each girl was given a sanitary kit that comprised with sanitary towels, antiperspirant, toothbrush, tooth paste, soap and a diary.

Menstrual care is undeniably a human right and one that needs to be addressed by the government. The EPP project promises to feature many more conversations and several stakeholder round tables with the view to promote policies (such as tax free and/or subsidy of sanitary products) that will enhance access to sanitary products and foster gender fairness. “We must End Period Poverty one female at a time. Women should be able to talk about their periods and have access to affordable or free sanitary towels, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds. An extinction of Period Poverty is an introduction to an Improved State of the world”. Imoh Eboh Curator Global Shapers Community Lagos Hub

Ntianu Obiora