March 25, 2019
Issue 03 2019

Period poverty: The Elephant in the Room

I don’t go to the doctor often but when I do it surprises me. There’s almost always a bowl of free condoms sitting there in all their glory, wrapped in technicolour packaging and “safe sex” messaging.

I have no issue with provided contraception, nor do I have an issue with pushing the notion of safe sex. However, I do have a problem with the lack of free pads, tampons and menstrual cups available.

You don’t have to have sex, but if you’re a female you do have to have your period. And it’s going to cost you, big time. You can’t bleed for free.

If women can’t afford a pad, tampon or a cup when it’s “that time” they often go without. We hardly talk about period poverty because the word ‘period’ is enough to make most
people shudder and ignore its existence.

The reality is, women are going to bleed. This normal, natural body function is necessary. Despite its biological importance, periods are seen as ungraceful and “gross” by many.

Nursing student, Zahra Lee, says that sanitary items should be easily accessible to all women. She believes that people often overlook the need for these items due to gender inequality

“It should be a basic human right that all women should have access to sanitary items,” she says.

Period poverty is rife here and this means women, especially those in our more deprived areas suffer.

We throw condoms like confetti at every person of legal age, yet we hold sanitary items close and sell them like they’re
a luxury.

At the end of 2018, Kidscan released findings of their period poverty in New Zealand survey.

Shockingly, 53.1% of respondents had struggled to get sanitary items due to money. One in three had prioritised items like food instead.

23.6% had missed school or work as a result.

In 2015, the Salvation Army, Lucid and Countdown banded together to create “The Foodbank Project.”

It allows people to donate to others in need whether it be food, cleaning items or sanitary items.

These types of projects are key to helping women get through period poverty.

So if you ever find yourself in a position to purchase extra sanitary items in your grocery shop, spare a thought for your sisters riding the crimson wave and make a donation

These illustrations are available to purchase as a deck of cards for $30 each. To enquire, email