The definition of menstrual equity is as follows: “Equal access to menstrual hygiene products” (Seventh Generation, 2019).
“Period poverty” has a similar meaning, referring to the fact that many people are unable to access sanitary products and safe places to use them. In developing countries such as Kenya, individuals may have to choose between feeding their family and menstrual hygiene products (The Guardian, 2020). This leads to the use of alternative methods, such as scraps of fabric and mattress stuffing, which may lead to sores and infections (The Guardian, 2020). In addition to a lack of menstrual products, education on reproductive health is another important factor in menstrual equality. This is often overlooked due to the negative stigma associated with periods.
Not only is this an issue in developing countries, but it exists right here in North America. According to the research journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, more than 1 in 5 individuals who have a period in a major US city are unable to afford menstrual hygiene products (Seventh Generation, 2019). In addition to infections, a lack of menstrual products may lead to other health ailments such as toxic shock syndrome: a rare, but life-threatening condition.
At the University of Guelph, there are some bathrooms on campus that provide free menstrual products, but this is only a select few. Menstruation REDefined is a new group at the University of Guelph aiming to promote and advocate for menstrual equity, both on and off of campus.
For more information about menstrual equity, please check out the Guelph chapter of MenstruationREDefined: