period poverty

How does Period Poverty affect the Black community?

Jasmine Wicks Stephens
With a taboo surrounding menstruation, many young women are taught not to speak up about their periods. On top of that, there are those who are also struggling to access sanitary products. Lifestyle journalist & futurist @disha_daswaney investigates period poverty among the Black community.

The World Bank surveyed on a global scale and found that 68% of the world’s population has access to basic sanitation. In 2020, this is an absolutely shocking figure to imagine. According to Plan International, in the UK alone, this translates to more than one in ten girls who have to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues. This is even more challenging among Black communities with Black workers earning 23.1% less on average than White workers. The most surprising figure of them all – if you’re from an ethnic minority you’re 35.7% more likely to live in poverty in the UK.

But with the added stress of Coronavirus income insecurity has affected many households. Living through these crazily uncertain times without even being able to talk about your period makes it even harder. I saw a really inspiring article in Teen Vogue that really summarised why menstruation is overshadowed for Black women. A quote by menstrual advocate Cece Jones Davies resonated with me. It said:

“Black women have historically believed ourselves to be ‘wrong’, whether our bodies or hair. Our experience amongst an Anglo majority has given us deep-seated issues with the way we show up the world. And so, it is a natural progression for us to not have healthy relationships with our bodily processes, namely menstruation.”

Not only does this explain why there is a huge taboo, but it also goes on to highlight the nature of this problem has been deep seeded for generations.

Shedding a spotlight on the Black community, Faace’s new USA based partner, PERIOD, is dedicated to providing resources to ensure Black women have proper access to products and resources. In the US, they are serving people in cities most impacted by the racial justice demonstrations. These organisations include: Black Lives Matter – Greater NY, Miss Liberia, No More Secrets and Women For Political Change. Partnering with such meaningful organisations that stand up for injustices are really helping women feel empowered and safe.

A huge factor that gets underplayed about period poverty is the fact that it can truly affect your mental health. This is already a challenge in the US with African Americans being 10% more likely to experience serious psychological distress, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. These disparities are huge contributors, which will worsen your mental wellbeing in the long-term.

While this remains a taboo, there are so many women from ethnic minorities who are admirable menstrual activists and fighting against period poverty. Here are some notable names to mention: Amika George, Manjit K Gill, Nikita Aashi Chadha and the list goes on. Period poverty has drastically improved since notable campaigns and charities are coming together to support the cause. We need to continue opening up about our natural bodily processes and finding ways to help future generations. I’ll leave you with this thought – when a girl misses a day of school because of period, cumulatively this puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. We need to stand together.

Written by lifestyle journalist & futurist @disha_daswaney

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