The charity, with assistance from The Body Shop Australia, surveyed 661 people who menstruate in Australia.
“Here in Australia, half those we surveyed said they had trouble finding period products, particularly when panic buying started," Legena added. "There were also widespread reports that prices have risen and remain higher than usual, with one in five of our survey participants reporting this was the case. We would strongly encourage retailers to ensure that menstrual hygiene products remain affordable during this time, particularly when people are struggling financially.
“Unfortunately, some of our survey participants said the pandemic had created extra stress and pressure which had amplified their PMS or made their periods more painful. We also received reports that people were delaying or avoiding seeing a GP for fear of either contracting coronavirus or taking up resources for those who have it. We would echo previous calls from medical experts to go and see your GP as usual and never to put it off, particularly now telehealth appointments are widely available.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that female sanitary products will be offered free in schools across the country to end period poverty. The national plan follows Scotland, who became the first country in the world to make sanitary items free.
“We know that nearly 95,000 nine to 18 year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products,” Ardern said. “By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school.”
There are many ways we can help. One of the most effective is to donate products or money to charities who can supply products. Others include buying from brands that give back and speaking up to raise awareness.
Plan International is also calling on governments and health agencies to urgently assist girls, women and people who menstruate to manage their periods safely and with dignity.
“Menstrual hygiene management must be built into COVID-19 health responses and whilst lockdowns continue, it should be built into remote learning curriculums,” Ms Legena said.
“We know that people with disabilities and people from marginalised communities, like refugees for example, are more profoundly impacted by these issues, so their menstrual health and hygiene must be prioritised in responses to the pandemic.”
Learn more here.