Menstrual poverty around the world in ten key figures

Home Menstrual poverty around the world in ten key figures
Written by Doug Hampton

(ETX Daily Up) – More and more countries around the world are reimbursing or providing free periodic protection for women, or part of the female population. The fact remains that more than 500 million girls and women still remain in a situation of menstrual poverty, and the economic and humanitarian crises could make this figure jump even further. On the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, Sunday May 28, here is the weight of menstrual poverty on the condition of women in ten key figures.

Impact on physical and mental health

A new report from Plan International, an NGO working to advance children’s rights and equality between girls and boys, finds that more than 500 million girls and women in the world are in a situation of menstrual poverty. More specifically, this means that one in four menstruating girls or women cannot access products and equipment considered essential, which can have serious consequences on physical and mental health, but not only.

An issue for sexual health

On World Menstrual Hygiene Day, Plan International Australia explored the impact of humanitarian crises on menstrual poverty through a survey of 168 experts working with women and girls in 48 offices national and regional NGOs in the countries of the South. More than half of respondents (51.6%) reported the use of makeshift materials, such as used fabrics or rags, to compensate for the lack of periodic protection, and more than a fifth (22.9%) report that “adolescent girls engage in survival sex to pay for menstrual health products.”

The price of a car

There is no official data on the cost of menstrual hygiene, but several estimates compare this average cost to that of a car, new or used depending on the calculations. In France, a report published by the National Assembly considers between 8,000 to 23,000 euros the budget allocated to menstruation by a woman throughout her life. A cost which is based on an average of five days of menstruation per month, at the rate of five menstrual protections per day, over a period of 38 years, and takes into account “the renewal of underwear and bed linen, as well as the possible purchase of painkillers and check-ups with a gynecologist”.

A study conducted by Plan International Australia finds $10,000 on average the expenditure allocated by a woman during her lifetime for menstrual products, without taking into account possible pain treatments. In the United Kingdom, a survey relayed by HuffPost quantifies this budget at 18,450 pounds sterling, including periodic protection, painkillers, and the renewal of underwear. In any case, these figures show how much these expenses can weigh on the budget of millions of women around the world.

An impact on school absenteeism?

A report published in 2014 by Unesco notes that a lack of facilities in schools can lead to school absenteeism for menstruating girls, while specifying that it is difficult to establish an exact link between absenteeism and menstruation. The fact remains that many studies, particularly carried out in India or in certain African countries, testify to the impact of menstrual precariousness and the lack of equipment on the schooling of girls, whether it is absenteeism or deschooling. A figure could also support this assertion: Unicef ​​indicates that one in three schools does not have “adequate toilets” in the world, and that 23% of schools have no toilet. Something that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to manage good menstrual hygiene.

Menstrual poverty in France

France is not spared by menstrual precariousness, since nearly 4 million women menstruating women aged 18 to 50 are affected in France in 2023, according to a survey carried out by OpinionWay for the association Rules Elementary. A figure that has doubled in just two years. If menstrual precariousness particularly affects young women aged 18 to 24 and single mothers, all generations and situations combined, these are more than 2.6 million women in France who were forced to give up buying periodic protection at least once for financial reasons in 2023. And the inflationary context could make matters worse, since the survey reveals that more than 1.2 million French women expect to be in a precarious situation within the next twelve months.

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