Society has a gender-based problem, and Australia specifically has a gender crisis. Women across the world face stigma and prejudice that threatens their lives, but one of the least covered topics in this oppression is the poverty women face from menstruating. Period poverty refers to the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products, education, and support throughout the world. Especially for homeless women, periods can be disastrous. Thus with an upcoming homelessness crisis in AUS, this gender-based issue has never been more pressing.
Fortunately, attitudes towards menstruation have greatly improved over the last few decades in Australia. Periods were once thought to be a monthly disability. But now women enjoy the freedoms of less stigma, advancements in menstrual product technology, and the recent passage of more progressive menstruation-based laws. Decisions such as requiring the second most populated Australian state to provide free period products for all students. Additionally, the luxury goods-and-services tax on menstrual products has been abolished throughout the continent. And one company, the Australian Victorian Women's Trust, has introduced an innovative policy on paid “period leave” which provides paid sick days outside of sick time to those who are experiencing monthly menstrual pain.
However, many advocates question whether these decisions will result in the drastic price reductions needed to make period products affordable to impoverished women. Australia has seen dramatic increases in levels of poverty and homelessness and expects to have a surge of people becoming at risk of homelessness in the next few years. Those in poverty struggle to afford basic items for survival. Women, thus, thus face even more financial risks due to extra menstrual necessities. The Australian government needs to act quickly to help it’s growing population of impoverished women (who are already more likely to face homelessness than men). Improvements to the education system will be needed as preventative measures against homelessness, but immediate action needs to be taken to provide people with affordable and free health products. Nations across the world need to step up and provide fair gender-based laws. And in the meantime, we as individuals need to donate to organizations that help alleviate period poverty.
Written by Sarah LeClair