It’s surprising it’s taken this long, but it’s better late than never to have this conversation.

CBBC Newsround will be airing their first-ever special about periods and period poverty.

Called Let’s Talk About Periods, the special show aims to address common myths and break taboos. The show is intended to educate children on period poverty.

The description of the show reads: ‘Half of the world’s population have periods – yet people are often embarrassed to talk about them. Lauren Layfield meets experts, celebrities and children to find out more about periods, people’s attitudes towards them and why it’s important to open up the conversation.’

The hope is that by opening up the floor to young boys and girls, it will break any stigma surrounding periods.

Radio host Lauren will also be speaking to presenter Charlie Webster, who experienced period poverty as a teenager.

The show airs this weekend on March 7th. As well as Lauren and Charlie, they’ll be joined by well-known names such as Tracy Beaker’s Dani Harmer.

Bullying

Additionally, back in 2019, a Plan International UK survey showed that one in five girls has been teased about their periods. The same number confessed they don’t like speaking about them.

Lucy Russell is the Head of girls’ rights and youth at Plan International UK. She told the BBC that we must have more conversations about periods: ‘It just causes problems. Not talking about periods means not understanding a healthy part of your body, and that can leave girls feeling confused, embarrassed or ashamed. We want to stop that.’

The survey also found that one in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products. One in seven have had to ask to borrow sanitary wear from a friend due to poverty. In addition, one in ten girls has had to improvise sanitary wear. Over 137,000 children across the UK have missed a day of school due to period poverty.

Free Sanitary Products

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has said free sanitary products will be available at all schools and colleges across England.

Scottish Labour MP Monica Lennon said it will make a ‘huge difference to the lives of everyone who menstruates’.

She told The Guardian: ‘There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life. A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber. Now it is mainstream.”
She finished: “MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”

UK Supermarkets

Now, Morrisons supermarket is launching a ‘buy one to give one’ scheme to combat period poverty. From 3 March until 10 March, for every Morrisons or Bodyform sanitary product bought in one of its supermarkets, Morrisons will donate one to a local food bank or community group.

The health buying manager at Morrisons, Sharael Mackay, said in a statement: “Period poverty is a problem for many of the most vulnerable in our communities and sanitary products are essential.

“Working with Bodyform, our ‘buy one to give one’ offer means that for every product our customers buy, we can ensure we’re helping those who really need it. Our customers have supported food banks throughout the pandemic, and we’re happy to be able to offer this additional support.”

A Worldwide Problem

UNICEF released a survey that found the majority of countries in South Asia don’t meet the World Health Organization’s sanitation criteria.

WHO calls for the standard of “one toilet for every 25 girls”. However, in one district in Nepal, a shocking 170 girls shared only one toilet.

Meanwhile in India, only 12% have access to sanitary products, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. Many girls have to use “materials like rags and sawdust” instead.

Covid-19 is causing problems too. Shortages of soaps, toilet paper and cleaning materials are common. These are all things that are needed for menstrual hygiene as well as preventing Covid.

Also, in some cultures, women are sent into “menstrual huts” for their menstruation cycles. Unfortunately, the size of these huts aren’t large enough to practice social distancing.

What else can be done to break the stigma?

Image via Alamy