Women are struggling to access period products during the pandemic, but there is a way to help if you can.
Period poverty was a big problem before Covid-19 even existed. Research by Plan UK found that 10% of women in the UK couldn’t afford period products, while 15% of women have had to switch less suitable products due to affordability.
It’s perhaps inevitable that the pandemic has further worsened this situation: lockdown has exposed and exacerbated many social inequalities, after all. But the actual number of people now relying on period product donations is a somewhat shocking reminder that this issue isn’t being properly addressed.
Period poverty charity Bloody Good Period reports a 5.5 fold increase in the volume of period product supplies distributed during lockdown. As well as the obvious effects of this – no one should have to go through their period without sanitary products – it’s also impacting mental health.
“Access to period products, which was already an issue for many people, has been made worse by Covid-19 and lockdown, which has seen many community distribution points closed, as well as rising levels of financial hardship and poverty, forcing people to make impossible choices between food and other essentials,” Rachel Grocott from Bloody Good Period tells Stylist.
“We’ve now distributed just under 33,000 packs of period products since the start of lockdown: that’s a 5.5 fold increase in the volume of supplies distributed in ‘normal’ times.
“No-one should have to worry about the products they need to deal with their period, and many of the people we’ve helped have reported increased stress as a result of being without period products. These are essential items for anyone who menstruates, and we will carry on providing them to everyone who needs them during the pandemic (and beyond).”
This of course includes school girls who usually access free period products at school.
In a recent BBC News report, the Department for Education said: “We introduced the period product scheme so that students are able to access to these products when they need them at school or college.
“The scheme remains in operation and schools and colleges are still able to order a range of period products through the online portal and distribute them to students, whether they are learning from home or at school or college.”
But, clearly, a growing number of women and girls are unable to access products. So what can we do to help?
“We are bulk buying products and delivering them to community groups and charities for distribution, or direct to individuals in isolation, where needed,” explains Grocott .
“This means that our product and distribution costs are higher, so the best thing people can do to support us is to donate money on the Bloody Good Period website, or via our Instagram @bloodygoodperiod, where you can also see more about our pandemic response.”