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 women. The UK government finally took a crucial step to end period poverty by announcing it would provide sanitary products for free at all secondary schools in England from September.
But millions of women and girls 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 Australia to Zambia, women and girls are fashioning their own sanitary pads and menstruation skirts from unexpected materials – and while they might not be women's 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.