Addressing the issue of Period poverty in Srilanka

On 5th September 2020, UK Friends of Galle (UKFG ) charity representatives, Laksiri and Ananda Hewavidana visited five schools in Kamburupitiya and gave away 1000 packets of period towels (Fem) to adolescent female pupils in five schools.

What is Period Poverty?

‘Period poverty’ means being unable to access sanitary products and having poor knowledge of menstruation often due to financial constraints. Period poverty has hit global headlines in recent years, with statistics showing that even in a wealthy Western country like Britain, one in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products. In the UK, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while 1 in 7 have struggled to afford them,

In Sri Lanka, the problem is particularly acute because sanitary products are so heavily taxed . Not having access to a safe and hygienic way to deal with menstruation can have profound consequences; particularly on a girl’s education. Research by Plan International UK found that 49 percent of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period. 59 percent of these girls have made up a lie or an alternative excuse to avoid going to school. Over the course of a year, 137,700 children in the UK miss school because of period poverty.

Another problem intertwined with period poverty is the taboo surrounding menstruation, this can be particularly harmful to girls going through puberty. In a survey of more than 1,000 girls, nearly half were embarrassed by their period, many were afraid to ask for help because of the stigma and 68% said they felt less able to pay attention in class at school or college while menstruating.

This stigma surrounding periods has been shown to directly affect a child’s potential to succeed. Studies conclude that the knowledge of effective treatments for period pain is low and girls with period pain experience reduced classroom performance and a lower level of class attendance. If a pupil misses school every time they have their period, they are set 145 days behind their fellow students.

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