Period poverty, known as the lack of access to menstrual care products, hygiene, and education surrounding menstruation, is a significant issue affecting many women, girls, and menstruators around the world. In fact, approximately 25% of menstruators worldwide are suffering from period poverty.
Intersectionality comes into play when speaking about period poverty, as it disproportionately affects menstruators of color, Black and Latinx menstruators in particular. Furthermore, low-income families are often affected by period poverty more intensely, and as a result of the racial disparities in income, people of color are at higher risk of experiencing period poverty than white menstruators. According to a study conducted by Alliance for Period Supplies, 25% of Black and Latina menstruators surveyed that they have struggled to afford period products. Moreover, period poverty is also assumed to have social effects on the lives of menstruators, as 1 and 5 menstruators report not going to school when they are menstruating due to a lack of access to products. Therefore, period poverty is ultimately perpetuating racial inequities.This conversation brings up many questions. For example, why are period products considered a luxury, when they are in fact, a necessity? Why is there a lack of education surrounding menstruation in the American school system? And ultimately, what can we do to combat period poverty and the racial disparities that come with the lack of access to period products? For starters, Amber Wynne, a student at Hampton University in an interview for The Lily, discusses the lack of voices of color in media surrounding menstruation. “In the media, we still see the same cisgender White women who represent all menstruators as the faces of brands” (Our Bodies Ourselves). Thus, in an effort to end the stigma surrounding menstruation, the incorporation of voices of color in the media could be a step towards closing these racial disparities. Ultimately, considering period poverty is a systemic human rights issue intertwined with the racial, gender, and income inequities within the United States.