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Bloody Hell

This Sunday May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day. As part of my 2023 tenure with Plan International Australia Youth Activist Series, myself and my fellow YAS have collaborated with Plan to write a report labelled "A Tough Period" which I will link at the bottom.

This day is important as it helps raise awareness around menstrual health globally and helps the conversation to end the stigma surrounding periods.

The day was first observed in 2014 globally, since its inception, it has continued to grow and spread.

There is an estimate that each person with a uterus who menstruates will on average spend 10K on menstrual health products in their lifetime. This should not become an area of budget and currency, it should be viewed for what it truly is; health.

In the " A Tough Period" report there are findings from a survey they commenced surrounding the current cost of living crisis and periods.

One paragraph highlights the difference between generations and the cost of living:

" A recent cost of living report found that 90% of Generation Z – young people born between 1997 and 2009 - have reduced their spending to cope with the cost of living, compared to 59% of Baby Boomers. Likewise, 70% of Generation Z also admitted to feeling financially stressed due to inflation, while 29% of Baby Boomers felt the same way. "

The report detailed their findings and I'm now going to highlight some facts contained in the report.

  • Almost 6 in 10 Gen Z and Millennial women are finding it more difficult to pay for menstrual health products than they were before the current cost of living crisis (57%). This figure rises to 64% for Gen Z.

  • More than half of Gen Z and Millennial women are finding it more difficult to pay for menstrual pain management medication/treatment than before the current cost of living crisis (53%). Again, Gen Z are feeling it more, with 57% finding it more difficult.

  • More than 1 in 4 of Gen Z respondents said that the difficulties they now experienced in paying for period products and period pain management had impacted on their sexual relationships

  • Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of regional respondents said they were finding it harder to buy period products.

The year is 2023 and we are still facing basic health care issues such as access to period products.

Many men and boys still have little education surrounding menstruation, this is absurd. All life is created from the menstruation cycle and uterus'. These products are just as essential as toilet paper but yet there is still stigma surrounding them.

I used to work in pharmacy and it was rare to see men come in and buy menstrual products for their partner but when it did happen they often become quite awkward. This shouldn’t be a shameful thing nor should there be a stigma around a human bodily function.

We don't feel shame buying tissues (typically idk you might), but yet buying tampons has to be viewed as discreet.

In 2022 Scotland became the first nation in the world to make all period products free. This should be an international standard. Not everyone is able to afford these basic hygiene products and it can often have a major impact on them in multiple ways.

In New Zealand in 2021 then Prime Minister (icon) Jacinda Ardern stated that for the next three years all schools would make menstrual products available for free.

It is moves and legislation like this that helps end stigmas and normalise these conversations.

When we remove this stigma we are helping open up the dialogue surrounding reproductive health. This can make conversations surrounding endometriosis, PCOS, vaginitis and ovarian cancer more open and less stigmatised too. Less stigma also equates to more diagnosis and check ups. This would have a domino effect of benefits to all those globally with uteruses.

How can we be a country that claims to be rich in resources, human rights and freedoms when those who menstruate don't have accessibility to basic health products.

This past week I spoke with SBS News Australia about my own experience with menstruation and particularly in the last few years with the continual rise of the cost of living. I Will also link that article below.

These conversations are so important so that one day we can achieve better standards and lose the stigma surrounding basic health.


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