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Period Poverty On The Rise

Sanitary pads made luxury now! An estimated 1.8 billion females menstruate, and this has become an economic and environmental burden. Despite modernization and empowerment of women, menstruation remains a taboo even till today.

A woman in average uses 30 sanitary pads per period which costs approximately $3 i.e 720 LKR. Nadeesha Paulis – an advocate of menstrual cups and founder of Happy Bleeding in Sri Lanka speaks to The Millennial Hub. She says, “The tax on sanitary products in Sri Lanka is 62%. The minimum wage here is 700 LKR, which is an economic burden to woman earning less.”

Scotland in 2019 eliminated such taxes and provided free sanitary goods as a part of its national policy. Similarly, Germany, Kenya, Uganda, Swiss and many more have abolished such taxes and many more are trying to do so. But is this our biggest concern yet? Or there’s more to this?


In villages, women tend to use rags, cloth, ashes etc. Kayla-Leah – Doctor in a Ted talk said “In a trip to Haiti, while working for mobile medical clinics, in four days we saw 320 women and all of them had a urinary infection or yeast infection as they had only little access to feminine supplies.” Nadeesha says, “The mentality and attitude towards periods is still very grey. We women have to take the initiative to help educate  young girls and women on menstrual health, hygiene, products available and give access to products to help irradiate health hazards.”

In South Asia, sanitary pads bring a major threat to national waste management. Reports by an NGO – WaterAid India, states that 21,780 pads are disposed annually. This is causing threat to the India’s waste management system.

How about eco-friendly manufacturing of sanitary pads? Heard or used any?

Sinidu a Sri Lankan business, manufactures organic sanitary pads for rural women at 60 LKR per pack. This was inspired by Arunachalam Muruganantham, the real “Pad Man”– an Indian inventor of organic and cost effective pads after looking at his wife struggle by using rags during her period. Also it is must watch film! Arunachalam mentioned “My mission is to provide employment to all rural women and also make this invention a local sanitary pad movement across the globe where currently 110 countries are already practicing this method.” This generous act has helped uplift menstrual hygiene and employment rates not only in India but worldwide.

menstrual cup

What more can women do to mitigate environmental hazards from sanitary pads?

The innovation of menstrual cups eradicates both economical and environmental pollution. Nadeesha says, “Menstrual cups are one-time investments and function better than sanitary pads. A social stigma that virgins cannot use menstrual cups, makes it impossible to wade past. There are girls and women who may be scared or shy to use such products but are very curious to know what it is. Here is where we as educators should reach out to them and break social stigmas, to uplift menstrual hygiene and promote eco-friendliness.”

One such significant event occurred in Muhamma village in Kerala. It was found that water ways in this village were clogged due to improper disposal of sanitary pads and diapers. Hence, a Bengaluru based  organisation ATREE offered a solution by offering reusable cloth pads and cups at a very low price. With an eye-opening educational session, it was seen that 500 hundred women had switched menstrual cups for a greener future.

How can you help?

  • Contact educators / doctors to conduct sessions
  • Educate your child on menstrual hygiene and sustainability

Education on menstrual hygiene and sanitary products is the key for young girls and women to live a healthy and confident life while protecting the environment. This alone would help end period poverty.

“As a woman, it is necessary to be open to knowledge and innovation. Consider period as a blessing and not a curse” says Nadeesha.

What do you think?


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