(Picture: WaterAid)Period poverty affects the whole world. Women who get their periods don’t always have sanitary products to manage them so have to resort to other means.
Even in the UK, which is relatively richer than other parts of the world, 40% of girls are thought to have been forced to use toilet roll because they couldn’t afford sanitary products.
In other parts of the globe, the situation is dire.
Poor women and girls have to use animal skins, rags, and cow patties to accommodate their flow. One woman from Uganda said she digs a hole in the ground and sits on it to drain the blood.
Some of those menstruating don’t even have access to basic necessities like clean water and toilets.
So charity Water Aid has put together a photo gallery to show the methods these women are using to give us an idea of the reality of period poverty.
Munyes, 44, from Uganda digs a hole in the ground during her period and sits on it to drain the blood (Picture: WaterAid/ James Kiyimba)The charity reported that one in nine people don’t have clean water close to home and one in three don’t have a decent toilet of their own.
As part of the gallery, WaterAid spoke to some of these women who revealed what methods they use.
Limpo, a 22-year-old from Zambia uses dried up cow dung. She cuts them into small patties and wraps a cloth over them.
‘I do not put the cow patties directly on my skin, I wrap it in a cloth and place it nicely to capture the flow without staining other clothes,’ she said.
Limpo trims a large cow patty used during menstruation (Picture: WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda)‘I like this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood before they are completely soaked. I go about doing all sorts of things without any trouble.
‘Once soaked, I carefully dispose of it privately. I usually dig a small hole in the ground and bury it. In our culture, it is not allowed that men see such things.’
Lepera showing her goatskin skirt which she uses when she is on her period (Picture: WaterAid/ James Kiyimba)Lepera Joyce from Uganda said she uses an animal skin ‘menstruation skirt’.
She said: ‘Once I bought a pack of sanitary pads from the shop but I did not like them because if one has heavy blood flow she can use more than three pads in a day yet they are expensive.
‘Also they are small, they do not absorb all blood, yet the goatskin skirt works for the whole day.’
Similarly, Sangita, from Nepal, makes her own sanitary pads.
‘Readymade pads are costly and if you do not dispose of them properly it will pollute the environment,’ she said.
‘In a municipality like ours where there is no plan for managing solid waste, these sorts of pads can contaminate our water source as well if not disposed of properly. So looking at the wider impact, homemade pads are safer.’
But if materials are being reused or washed with unclean water and are therefore unhygienic, they pose health risks.
Doris, 19, holds lint cotton she uses during menstruation (Picture: WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda)WaterAid said all women should have access to a clean and safe sanitary product of their choice.
They are urging governments to take action against period poverty.
‘WaterAid is calling on governments worldwide to prioritise appropriate sanitation, clean water, and good hygiene in schools, homes, and workplaces, and access to sanitary products to all, to ensure that women are not excluded from society once a month as a result of a natural process.’
Here are some other methods women use:
Tamala, 23, uses a piece of cloth called nyanda during her period (Picture: WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga)
Saba, 18, cutting a cloth to use during her period (Picture: WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider)
Lydia, 26, uses cotton sanitary pads when she is on her period (Picture: WaterAid/Priya Sippy)
Hilary, 27, uses reusable sanitary pads to manage her period (Picture: WaterAid/ Billy Barraclough)MORE: Man dismisses period poverty as ‘nonsense’
MORE: Woman spends student loan on sanitary products to tackle period poverty at university
MORE: Girls in primary school experience period poverty too – where are their free sanitary products?