Menstrual protection and education

Having access to menstrual protection is a prerequisite for many girls to go to school when they are menstruating. Photo: Marco verch CC BY 2.0 and Tamarcus Brown / Unsplash

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Free menstrual protection will get more girls to go to school

Scotland may become the first country in the world where menstrual protection is free for all women. Parliament has voted in favor of a law to reduce menstrual poverty and get all girls to go to school - even when they are menstruating.

February 25th The Scottish Parliament voted in favor of the proposal on free menstrual protection. If the proposal becomes law, Scotland will be the first country in the world to provide its female population with free menstrual protection. Labor politician Monica Lennon, who presented the proposal in 2017, believes that access to menstrual protection is a right that applies to all women.

The fact that girls and women cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins, tampons and other menstrual pads has proven to be a major reason why many miss school every month. The organization Plan International has performed a study about the link between menstrual poverty and absenteeism in the UK. Of the 1000 girls who participated in the study, who were between 14 and 21 years old, 49 percent stayed home from school during the first day of their period. As many as 64 percent of the girls also missed out on physical education. 

A similar study was conducted in New Delhi, India. Of the 600 girls who participated in the study School absenteeism during menstruation among adolescent girls in Delhi, India who were between 12 and 18 years old, 40 percent stayed home from school throughout their period. In Uganda, 28 percent of girls missed schooling because of their period, according to another study av International plan. The high absenteeism affects the girls' learning and leads to many retiring or choosing to drop out of school.

Schooling and the problem of menstrual protection is a global phenomenon, according to the activist Elizabeth Payne. I an article in The Guardian Payne describes that women, girls and non-binary have over 69 different terms and expressions to describe menstruation on, without using the actual word. It clearly shows how uncomfortable many people are to talk about menstruation, Payne writes. 

The decision on free menstrual protection in Scotland has attracted the attention of several women's rights organizations. IN an interview with Independent UK Nicoletta Primo from the organization Girlguiding describes that her hopes are that several countries around the world will be inspired by this decision, including the rest of the UK. 

Mens poverty

Menstrual poverty is a global problem which means that girls, women and non-binaries cannot afford to buy menstrual pads, such as menstrual cups, tampons and sanitary napkins. Menstrual poverty affects girls' schooling and contributes to more people choosing to stay at home during menstruation. The English term for menstrual poverty is "period poverty" and also includes access to sanitary products, knowledge about menstruation and access to hand washing.

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