All You Need to Know About Period Equity: Detailed Overview

Let’s say it out loud, PERIODS. One of the significant issues when fighting for menstrual equity is that many people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about it. ‘The time of the month’ is how people like to refer to it. While it might not sound problematic to many, it reinforces that periods are ashamed of. This mindset results in stigmatizing periods that hold women back in all areas of life. 

Globally, 2.3 billion women are suffering due to period poverty. It has had profound consequences, particularly on girls’ education. 1 in 10 girls in developed countries miss their schools, and you can estimate its impacts on the girls in underdeveloped countries. These girls are at a greater risk of injustices like child marriage, getting pregnant young, and missing out on the primary right of education.

Having access to sanitary pads is a basic need, just like toiletries. Some underprivileged women cannot afford these products, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have easy access. It’s a basic human need and a right that many people are working to achieve. This article will tell you all you need to know about period equity, from what it is to why it is important and what we’re trying to achieve. So, stick through!

What does period equity mean?

It simply means that laws, policies, and culture must ensure that period products are affordable, safe, and readily available to those in need. Who are those ‘in need’? The most obvious answer might seem to be those who cannot afford period products.

But it is more profound than that, and it means that every person with a period can access safe products for their body (no toxic or chemicals) and the planet. It implies that period products are available like soap or toilet paper wherever we go, a public toilet, work toilets, the gym, the cinema, or even a bar. Sounds dramatic to some, I know, but period products are a necessity. And taking care of our health is our right.

Why is the Movement so Important?

Period equity is now a global movement. It is important to know why this movement is growing rapidly. Women all over the world are suffering due to a lack of accessibility to menstrual products and education. 60% of the girls don’t even know about menstruation before they get their first period. Period poverty is an often ignored yet highly alarming health crisis. It needs the instant attention of our governments, policymakers, health care workers, and activists who believe in inequality. 

Free toilet paper is provided in every public and private bathroom for two bodily functions that we have no control over. Yet, when we desperately need items for a third bodily function that we have no control over, we have to somehow figure it out for ourselves or risk getting embarrassed and humiliated. 

Women are harassed, discriminated and looked down upon due to the stigmas attached. In rural Nepal, ‘chhaupadi’ is a tradition that is followed to date, which basically isolates menstruators in a cowshed or a separate hut. It also discourages girls who are on their period to go about their day as usual. Making women feel ashamed of something as natural as a monthly cycle is why we need this movement. For all these above-mentioned matters, it is high time we give the much-needed attention to this movement working to better-deprived women universally.

What is Menstrual Equity Movement Trying to Achieve?

Period equity has become the latest frontier for numerous rights activists. While we've come a long way in a short period in openly discussing menstruation, there's still so much to achieve. For instance, access to menstrual products is a matter of dignity and equity. The tax levied on these items creates a discriminatory economic burden. No girl should risk missing school or work or choose between purchasing these items and other life necessities such as food. Unlike most poverty-related issues, this can indeed be resolved. Women righteously need not pay tax on any sanitary products. Periods must not only be destigmatized but should also be celebrated loud and clear.

The term 'tampon tax' describes that in 30 U.S. states, menstruation products are not considered non-essential and are subject to the luxury tax. It is not an individual tax for tampons and another sanitary products-it's the same tax other non-essential products have. This might not be a big deal to many, but it does add up. It specifically puts a burden on menstruators who are struggling for pennies. As per the research conducted on 183 low-income females, 64% were unable to afford period products. 21% of them face this problem monthly. Some even had to choose between food and menstrual products.

Do you wonder why aren't menstrual products tax-exempt, with this affecting so many people? One argument put forth by Nicole Kaeding says that exempting menstrual products violates principles of sound tax policy. She goes on to say, "ideally, sales taxes should tax all final consumer purchases, without regard to whether items are classified as necessities or luxuries." Of course, if no goods were tax-exempt, we wouldn't be discussing this in the first place.

Final Verdict

The stigmas attached to menstruation have done all potential harm to people all over the world. Refugees, women in the asylum, Somalian girls are some of the most vulnerable people that need our protection. The world should look up to Scotland as it is the first country to make Sanitary products free. It is the responsibility of law enforcement and policymakers to do what’s necessary i-e, make the laws that make these sanitary products easily accessible and affordable for everyone. 

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