Popular Products

Period Poverty In The UK & Beyond: How To Help

For many of us, affording period products is a privilege that we sometimes take for granted. There are many women and young girls out there who aren’t as lucky. Thinking about period poverty is daunting and the topic can feel emotional and challenging. But here at Lil-Lets, we believe that it’s important to understand the lived realities of period poverty and help where we can.

What is period poverty?

Period poverty is the inability to afford period products, but it can also relate to having a lack of education about menstruation. One way of understanding these hardships is by discussing the ‘toxic trio’ that underpins the history of period poverty.

The toxic trio refers to:

  • The cost of period products
  • The taboo and stigma surrounding menstruation
  • A lack of vital education about periods, sex, and relationships in schools

You’re most likely familiar with the ‘tampon tax’ that the UK government has come under scrutiny about. The tampon tax refers to the profits from the VAT charge of 5% applied to period products — a tax that is seriously disputed as period products are essentials that not everybody can afford.

As well as the financial difficulties that contribute to period poverty, lack of access to education and resources is a massive issue. As a result of these combined factors, people are growing up in a climate where they can’t afford these essential items, they feel ashamed about their bodies, and they remain uneducated about important elements of menstruation.

Why is period poverty an issue?

Women and young girls from low-income households may not be fortunate enough to add menstrual hygiene products to their weekly grocery shop — leaving many unable to access these essential items in the workplace or at school. Sadly, this is likely to have a massive impact on their social life and wellbeing.

Period poverty statistics in the UK

It’s time to shed light on the concerning reality of period poverty in the UK. Understanding the prevalence and impact of period poverty is essential to advocate for change. 

Here are some period poverty facts and statistics shared in an *ActionAid UK 2022 survey:

  • 12% of British women are affected by period poverty.
  • 46% of women who struggled to afford period products wore pads or tampons for longer or used tissues for menstrual hygiene management.
  • 84% of women have given period products to a friend, family member or stranger in need.

Period poverty statistics worldwide

Now we can dive into the global scale of period poverty and statistics from various regions around the world. Unfortunately, period poverty affects various countries such as Scotland, Uganda, Kenya, Nepal and India, to name a few.

Here are some period poverty global statistics shared in an article by **ActionAid UK:

  • The World Bank estimates at least 500 million women and girls worldwide lack access to wash facilities required for menstrual hygiene, putting them at risk of reproductive health issues such as urinary tract infections.
  • 1.25 billion women and girls don’t have access to safe and private toilets. Additionally, 526 million don’t have a toilet at all.
  • In the global south, half of all women and girls are sometimes forced to use items like rags, grass and paper when menstruating.

Fighting period poverty in schools

Period poverty is not limited to home or work environments. It affects countless students across the UK and beyond. An alarming number of young people face the distressing reality of having no access to menstrual products at school, often resulting in missed classes and compromised academic performance. 

We need to find solutions to this issue and allow people to reach their true potential, no matter their household income.

This lack of access to period supplies perpetuates the stigma surrounding menstruation. It places an unnecessary burden on students, hindering their confidence and well-being. As we strive for period equality, it's crucial to advocate for comprehensive and sustainable solutions within educational institutions.

How to end period poverty: period equality campaigns

If you really want to make a change, get involved with some period equality advocacy, such as ActionAid UK and Bloody Good Period, and donate to some good causes today (if you are financially able).

Another great way to help is by donating period products to your local foodbank so that they are always available to those who can’t afford them. Cycle-specific products should be kept in mind while making donations — try to vary the products you donate so that there is something suitable for everyone.

Amika George: The Period Poverty Activist

Young activists such as Amika George are already leading the way. The inspiring teen activist created the #FreePeriods movement to amplify the message that no one should have to miss school because of the lack of period product affordability. She teamed up with other campaigns such as the Pink Protest and the Red Box Project to reiterate the importance of achieving period equality for all girls.

Together, let's pave the way for a more equitable future where every menstruating individual can manage their periods with dignity and flourish.

Reflecting on solutions to period poverty

As we unpack the impact of period poverty, it becomes evident that a collective effort is required. We can all make a difference by supporting initiatives that provide menstrual products in schools, workplaces, and local community centres. This also includes advocating for policy changes and fostering open conversations about menstruation.


*https://www.actionaid.org.uk/blog/2022/05/27/cost-living-12-british-women-are-affected-period-poverty [Accessed: 20 July 2023]

**https://www.actionaid.org.uk/blog/2022/05/18/period-poverty-statistics-around-world [Accessed: 20 July 2023]

***https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/period-poverty-everything-you-need-to-know/  [Accessed: 20 July 2023]


Stay up to date

Want to keep in touch with Lil-Lets? Sign up to receive our newsletter to be the first to receive brand updates, articles & much more.