What do you do when you wake to find your period’s started? You do what many do and reach for your supplies.
And, if you forgot to purchase more, you look around and find a pad or tampon in your purse or backpack, knowing it will hold you long enough to get to the store where you can buy more.
But what if you don’t have easy access to a store? What if you don’t have transportation? What if you don’t have $$ to purchase what you need? What if you’re homeless? What if you’re dependent on others to provide for your menstrual needs and you’re too embarrassed to ask? What if there are no menstrual supplies available – at all? What if your clothing is limited and you are unable to wash out your clothes each day?
What would your first day of menstruation be like? How would you cope with the next 7 or so days of menstruation? Would you be able to attend school? Would you be able to work? What would you do?
Millions of girls and women find themselves in this situation period after period, month after month, year after year, using leaves, moss, paper and old rags to absorb their flow.
Girls can’t can’t attend school on the days they are menstrual if they don’t have adequate menstrual supplies. It’s true here in the U.S. and it’s true in developing countries as well. Imagine yourself as girl who wakes up excited about the school day only to realize that she won’t be able to attend ALL WEEK because the newspaper or toilet paper she lines her panties with isn’t sufficient to prevent her from leaking through to her clothes. And, then imagine how far behind the others you would become if you missed a week of school EVERY month. What’s a girl to do?
I recently heard from an advocate for homeless women who said homeless shelters for women must ration what meager supplies they have.
Imagine being given two pads or two tampons each day, knowing they won’t last more than a couple of hours…knowing that you have a job interview…knowing that when you bleed on your clothes you will be unable to wash them for a week…knowing that you will bleed all over your cot that night, and yourself…knowing that there’s no $$ to purchase what you need…knowing that everyone will be aware that you are on your period because it will be visually obvious to everyone…knowing that whatever you find to line your panty with will most likely be less than sanitary and certainly will not be sufficient for your needs…and, knowing homeless shelters usually require that you are outside during the daytime and inside only for sleep. What’s a woman to do?
For those interested in making a difference in the menstrual lives of others:
- Women’s Shelters.org provides a listing of women’s shelters in the U.S. along with contact information.