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Menstrual products should be free during a pandemic

Menstrual products should be free during a pandemic

Menstrual products should be free during a pandemic
April 30
01:21 2020
A few months ago, Scotland was ready to become the first country that would make all menstrual products free. It would relieve every woman from the “period poverty” they experience and hopefully start the domino effect that would help other countries do the same.

Today, as new regulations are enforced to stop the spread of COVID-19, that policy should be put into effect worldwide as soon as possible.

As the pandemic continues to slow down most of society, stores around the world are emptying at alarming rates. Panic-buying has cleared shelves of items such as cleaning products, medicine, toilet paper and dry foods as people prepare for the worst. More cities are going on lock-down every day to slow the spread of the virus and government officials are asking for limited shopping trips to limit exposure and contact with others.

This situation doesn’t seem like it is going to be getting better anytime soon and countries need to start preparing to help their people in any way they can for as long as COVID-19 will affect them.

New York Times article wrote simply, “periods don’t stop for a pandemic.” For a lot of people, this simple fact is completely overlooked because it doesn’t apply to them. Maybe they don’t need to worry about getting these products, but a lot of people are struggling against empty shelves as shoppers hoard anything that looks useful to them, regardless if they need it immediately.

Even if the stores were full and people didn’t have to make multiple trips to different stores to get the products they need, they may be immunocompromised or have been exposed to COVID-19 in some way and cannot leave their home for the foreseeable future.

There is an easy solution to this problem – make all menstrual products free and easily accessible to the ones who need it. Websites like period.org have been fighting for change like this since 2014 and the site even has a petition to support emergency grants to purchase menstrual supplies during the pandemic.

Even before COVID-19, there were young individuals around the world who would miss school or work because they didn’t have access to the products they needed. Many schools in response began providing those products for free, but as schools close, these individuals are left without them once again. Due to this relapse of “period poverty” across the world, even those who can afford these products will likely not be able to get them either due to overbuying.

If Scotland’s original plan was put into effect across the globe, it would relieve millions of people from the burden of finding those needed products in an uncertain and dangerous time. If they weren’t able to get products a few months ago, how will they be able to get those same products now when stores are emptying and millions of people are now unemployed?

There has been a fight for free and accessible period products for years and their concerns are more relevant than ever before. Even if the “luxury” taxes on these products were lifted, it could go a long way in helping individuals who are unemployed and trying not to overspend on a trip to the store. The individuals who do have periods and need these products to go about their day normally shouldn’t be forced out of buying them in this time. Not giving these individuals the proper resources to do that in a pandemic is only hurting them.

The statistics of what happens when period products aren’t easily available are overlooked constantly, but if low-income individuals, teenagers and anyone else who may need these products have to choose between them and a meal in a time of normalcy, governments need to rethink their stances in a time where life is anything but normal.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Alex Reece

Alex Reece

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