Period poverty is a real thing. Having a period every month can not only be unpleasant, often uncomfortable and generally a bit of a nuisance, but it’s also expensive. Of course, it depends on the individual, how heavy your periods are, and whether or not they cause you pain that requires additional medical supplies, but as an example, I spend at least $25 a month on period supplies. And not everyone can afford that.
It’s also unfortunately common for women’s health to be downplayed, so much so that we often feel as though we need to suffer in silence when it comes to things like periods.
Apparently, not anymore. Melbourne City Council is considering funding a year-long pilot program to alleviate period poverty by making sanitary products available in public change rooms, recreation centres, swimming pools, community centres and libraries.
This would mean free tampons and pads would be readily available at these places for female-identifying people, regardless of their financial circumstance.
Councillor Jamal Hakim says that period poverty and being unable to afford sanitary products was a complex problem.
“Therefore multiple strategies are needed to ensure women have relevant and effective menstrual health education, access to period products and amenities such as toilets, soap and bins to manage menstruation without embarrassment or stigma,” Cr Hakim’s motion said according to SMH.
The motion references the Australian Centre for Philanthropy’s report Reducing Period Poverty in Australia 2020, that actually finds period poverty to be a big obstacle to health, comfort and engagement with school and community activities.
“Research about period poverty is limited, however some evidence shows that poor menstrual management can affect the emotional and physical health of young women and influence their behaviour, such as school attendance,” it said.
The City of Melbourne’s $10k program would start small, at six sites, but the council would partner with other organisations along the way for a wider rollout. This would then hopefully turn into a permanent part of public offerings.
While a few Melbourne homelessness support agencies provide free sanitary products, it’s actually quite shocking that this conversation hasn’t been had out loud before. Our bodies work in weird and wonderful ways that we often don’t have control over, and the ability to feel comfortable in our bodies shouldn’t have to come at a price.