During the pandemic, a survey carried out by Plan UK found that 11% of girls aged between 14-21 were not able to afford period products. It demonstrates a damning verdict on the status of period poverty today. However, with countries such as New Zealand following in Scotland’s footsteps by offering free feminine hygiene products to school girls, it proves that attitudes towards periods are changing in a positive way and initiatives to actively tackle the issue are also progressing.
It is probably no surprise that both New Zealand and Scotland – the first countries to make this step – are led by women, but this issue spans more than two countries. In Kenya alone, approximately 50% of school-age girls do not have access to menstrual products. The subject of periods, period poverty and product sustainability needs a collective effort in order for a long-term resolution to become realistic.
We’ve seen a renewed push from Femcare brands shining a spotlight on issues relating to female health and actively making efforts towards the cause. Companies such as Here We Flo have made advances in creating a healthy discussion by donating 5% of profit’s to the Orchid Project which focuses on ending female genital mutilation and the brand also regularly donates products to Bloody Good period who take care of UK asylum seekers.
While these campaigns prompt further discussions about people’s experiences with periods, more needs to be done to address the issue of period poverty and improve access to menstrual products. Brands are part of this fight because they have the capital and resource to rally against injustice, particularly when it comes to making the issue more visible in the eyes of consumers and politicians.
It took over 20 years of campaigning by women’s rights activists to force the UK Government to abolish the tampon tax. It was successfully abolished in January 2021 and this helped to improve affordability and accessibility of period products – a huge step in the right direction, but unfortunately not all period products apply.
At the PHA Group, we lead consumer and corporate awareness campaigns that enable ambitious brands to lobby for meaningful change. In short, we influence public behaviour and perceptions for the better. Period poverty and accessibility to period products is a hidden issue in the UK. 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products, while 1 in 7 have struggled to afford them. Yet our own research shows that, when compared against other poverty types, period poverty has an online share of voice (SOV) of 15.3% – a stark contrast to food poverty which receives 67.4% SOV.
Brands can engage with the media to offer their stance on what needs to happen to tackle issues related to period poverty and menstruation education. Compelling thought leadership that offers a unique perspective on the issue will help to build credibility amongst key target audiences and put the issue firmly on the radar – not just on a consumer level, but also within Government.
Leveraging research and data can also be of huge value. For example, if you can shift the focus from the human-interest piece and prove that addressing period poverty will benefit the economy by X amount over a five-year period, you are offering a valuable proof point that can analysed and dissected by a sometimes sceptical media.
If you would be interested in discussing how we could help your femcare brand influence public policy and consumer perceptions, get in touch with our award-winning team today to discuss how we could support you.