Being on your period can be agonising enough. However, a new study has found that a significant number of Australians don't even have access to period products, and are having to use toilet paper or other unsuitable alternatives to manage their period.
Released yesterday, Share the Dignity's Period Pride report found that more than 1 in 5 people who menstruate have had to 'improvise' on period products due to the cost.
The report was based on responses from more than 125,000 Australians and written by Dr Jane Connory of Swinburne University of Technology. It also found that 49% of respondents didn't have enough menstrual products, and were therefore wearing a pad or tampon for more than four hours at a time.
Rochelle Courtenay, Share the Dignity founder and managing director, said that the research demonstrated the alarming reality of period poverty in Australia.
“We expected to see that shame and stigma surrounding periods still exists, but we couldn’t have predicted the sheer number of people who have struggled to afford period products,” Courtenay said.
“It’s not just about using toilet paper either, it’s about not having access to period products when you need them."
Courtenay said the issue is not only more prevalent in Australia than we thought, but also not spoken about enough. By conducting what she described as "the world's biggest piece of research on menstruation", her organisation's aim is now to shed more of a light on period poverty and ensure that students from primary to tertiary education have access to sanitary products and adequate mentruation education.
Nearly half (46%) of the survey's respondents said they’ve skipped school for at least an entire day because of their period, while 40% said they've called in sick to work because of their period.
“We will continue to lobby for hospitals across Australia to make sanitary items accessible through our #paduppublichealth campaign and encourage Australians to donate products where they can," she said. "Together, we can all work towards ending the shame and stigma around menstruation in Australia and beyond.”
Share The Dignity is encouraging all Aussies to make a difference by participating in the #DignityDrive, where you can donate period products at any Woolworths store until the end of August. The full list of collection points is available here.