Periods don’t stop for pandemics. Despite everything moving at a blistering pace around us, with news moving so fast that we can barely absorb the latest statistics of infection rates, testing, and lockdown easing, one thing we know is that periods are a constant. A constant cost we can’t dodge, even when our incomes fall, and our jobs seem altogether too fragile.
Over the last few months, we have watched families suffer unimaginably, their faces heavy with grief and loss. We have gasped in wonder at the brave hope of key workers, layers of plastic protection failing to hide their reassuring smiles. We have dared to imagine a future outside this strange and apocalyptic time, where nothing feels familiar except the inside of our homes.
With so many of us uncertain of what the post-pandemic future looks like, with worries about job security and the health of our loved ones dominating our thoughts, for many, meeting their basic, fundamental needs has become a silent struggle.
tampons. This year, after we campaigned for two years to persuade the government to make , the scheme in England was finally rolled out in all schools and colleges in England from January. But with schools closed because of , children who had become reliant on these free products were suddenly at a loss.has always blighted the lives of the poorest in our society as they face a monthly struggle to afford pads and
I know this from my own interactions with some of them, whose families live at the sharpest end of poverty, and who daren’t ask for money for pads when they know there isn’t enough food for a meal. They are the girls who would miss school because they fear their one pad, swollen with blood, will not last a whole day, who face a strangling dread at the same time each month.
This month, a new report by Plan International UK reminded us of the realities of period poverty in lockdown. One in three young women and girls in the UK have admitted they are struggling to afford menstrual products, with over half resorting to using toilet paper instead. Although schools can still order in the products during lockdown, one third felt too embarrassed to seek out free products, such is the stigma and shame surrounding periods; the embarrassment associated with menstruation, even in this new decade which promises to be more progressive than ever. The patriarchal norms in our society has meant that period stigma is deeply and stubbornly entrenched.