My Fellow Menstrual Constituents,
Welcome to my first blog post. As a young teen, I always loved writing my thoughts out and personally, I thoroughly enjoy the sound of typing furiously on my keyboard to drive a point home. For those who have not heard of me, I am affectionately known as the Minister of Menstruation. Don’t believe me? Well why don’t you just open another tab and google The Minister of Menstruation and then please make sure you come back to continue reading this blog post! ANYWAY, the short of it is that I am extremely passionate about sharing knowledge around Periods but most importantly eradicating Period Poverty. I usually find myself in spaces speaking on public platforms (TV, radio, panel discussions, magazines) chatting about it, but I thought that the conversations were often limited and needed more depth, especially for those who wanted to learn more about it. So here comes Flowin’ Wisdom. A platform where the Minister of Menstruation rants, vents, and most importantly drops important BARS on all things… PERIOD.
So in this blog post, I want to take a moment to shed light on a topic that deserves to be spoken about, it’s a subject close to my heart, one that has driven me to take on the role of the Minister of Menstruation – Period Poverty.
What is period poverty, you may ask? It is a bitter reality that affects millions of women, girls, and people who menstruate worldwide, depriving them of their dignity and basic rights. It is a situation where access to menstrual products and education is limited, leading to immense hardships and inequality. The impact of period poverty is profound and far-reaching. People who menstruate and cannot afford period products are forced to resort to unhealthy alternatives. Imagine having to choose between buying food or period products. Imagine the humiliation of using makeshift alternatives like old rags, newspapers, or leaves because you can’t afford proper menstrual products. Period poverty takes an immense emotional toll on those affected, fostering a sense of shame and isolation. This precarious situation often leads to infections, discomfort, and potential long-term consequences.
But the implications of period poverty go far beyond the physical. It stifles the dreams and aspirations of countless people who menstruate, trapping them in a suffocating cycle of shame and unfulfilled potential. When girls miss school because they lack the necessary menstrual products, their education suffers. When people who menstruate have to miss out on work due to debilitating period cramps and other period symptoms that hamper their productivity, their work opportunities and economic empowerment are at risk. For countless people who menstruate in South Africa, every month brings a harsh reminder of the societal inequalities they face. Period poverty, defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities, waste management, and education, affects many people who menstruate globally causing physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Imagine, for a moment, the distress of not being able to afford pads or tampons, the embarrassment of staining clothing, or the fear of missing school or work because of menstruation.
You might be surprised to learn that in numerous countries, menstrual health products, continue to be costly and are subject to taxes. The root of the problem lies in how some governments categorize these products. Rather than recognizing them as everyday essentials, they often label them as luxury items – akin to fancy, non-essential goods that only wealthy folks can afford.
These are the daily battles faced by many in South Africa and around the world. Of the 22 million South African people who menstruate, 7.7 million (35%) don’t have the financial means to purchase period products. In a country where the wealth gap is pronounced, these disparities hit marginalized communities the hardest. Gender inequality remains a formidable obstacle. The stigma surrounding menstruation exacerbates the problem, making it challenging for people who menstruate to openly discuss their needs. This culture of silence further isolates those grappling with Period Poverty, leaving them without a support system.
I believe that no one should have to face such challenges simply because of their biology. I am driven by the belief that every individual, regardless of gender, deserves equal access to education, healthcare, and the opportunity to flourish.
To end period poverty, society must unite and take resolute action. We must start by breaking the silence and challenging the stigmas and taboos that surround menstruation. Education plays a vital role in dispelling myths and misconceptions, creating an environment where women and girls can embrace their bodies without shame or fear. Secondly, we must push for systemic changes. Governments and organizations must prioritize menstrual health policies that guarantee access to affordable and quality menstrual products. It is essential that these products are treated as necessities, not luxuries, and are readily available to all. Furthermore, we must foster partnerships and collaborations between governments, NGOs, and private entities. By joining forces, we can amplify our impact, leverage resources, and reach more individuals who are in dire need.
Together, we can ensure that a Period Positive world can be achieved so that menstruators can flow through life with dignity, confidence, and the knowledge that their needs are valued and met.
With unwavering determination,
The Minister of Menstruation