Thanks to the much-needed noise around period poverty in recent years, we're increasingly aware of the fact that, for many women, sanitary products aren't readily available. They're expensive, and being unable to afford them is a source of shame and stress for many menstruators. Only in the past year New South Wales and Victoria stepped up and began to supply free sanitary products for public schools.
But millions of people around the world use other methods of managing their menstrual cycles each month, whether that's because they're unable to afford sanitary products or for environmental, health or disposal reasons. A new photo series from the charity WaterAid showcases the myriad surprising and inventive ways in which women manage their periods around the world. From the UK to Zambia, women and girls are fashioning their own sanitary pads and menstruation skirts from unexpected materials — and while they might not be an ideal solution, they do the job.
"Women shouldn’t have to worry about where they might go, how they might manage their periods, or whether the appropriate facilities including running water and adequate disposal will be available," says Louisa Gosling, WaterAid's quality programmes manager. The charity is calling on governments to prioritise access to sanitary products and appropriate sanitation, among other things, "to ensure that women are not excluded from society once a month as a result of a natural process."
From a menstrual cup to cloth, a menstruation skirt and homemade sanitary pads, there are many ways in which women make do, while battling the stigma that continues to surround periods.