Who’s Fighting Period Poverty In Nigeria?
At first glance, “period poverty” sounds like an issue that affects only women. The reality however, is contrary. Period poverty affects every member of society, though the brute of its impact is felt amongst underprivileged women and girls.
The truth is that period poverty is a global sanitation issue, that speaks to the limited access to proper sanitation facilities, clean water and the lack of modern and accessible plumbing. The speed at which the world has been able to respond to the recent global pandemic only highlights global governments’ lack of commitment to ending period poverty and illustrates that this issue hasn’t been aggressively prioritized.
What Is Period Poverty?
In simple terms, period poverty refers to the inability for menstruating women and girls to access safe sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management. The results of the aforementioned mean missed days of school which ultimately result in missed opportunities that affect their socio-economic status.
In more traditional communities or rural areas, it sometimes means being ostracized from basic activities and being seen as unclean. It means being punished for your natural bodily functions.
What Are The Main Causes Of Period Poverty?
Firstly, menstruation is stigmatized around the world. The roots of this stigma are as old as other women’s issues. Though considered an olden practice (and illegal in some countries), many women are presently still forced into menstruation huts or banished from their communities.
Secondly, many girls and women cannot afford feminine hygiene products. And to worsen it, these essentials are subjected to what is commonly referred to as the “pink tax”, which is puzzling. Even if the tax was to be completely lifted, products would not become affordable. The minimum cost for period products is between $1.30-$1.90. To you the reader, this may seem like a small price to pay, but many people still live in abject poverty and do not earn up to or more than $1.90 a day. This means that women are confronted with a hard decision—do they feed themselves and their families, or do they buy sanitary products?
“With the continuous increase of imported goods in Nigeria, the cost of sanitary products along with the cost of living continue to rise, while salaries remain stagnant. When I started to feel the pinch, I began to wonder, ‘if I am struggling and I have a 9-5 and 2 businesses, how would this be affecting the millions of Nigerian women living under $1 a day’?
Bolu Adegborioye, Founder of WAWI Foundation
Everyone seems to donate food and clothes, while many young Nigerian girls have little or no access to sanitary products, while condoms and other forms of birth control are handed out freely. Sex is a choice, but monthly periods are not,” said Bolu Adegborioye, the founder of WaWi Foundation, a local NGO that campaigns to end period poverty.
To read Bolu Adegborioye’s full interview, download the May edition of The Cover, here.