Period poverty in Malaysia and beyond
Raihan discusses period poverty in Malaysia and the harsh realities that come with it for underprivileged women.
Menstruation is a natural biological process that most women experience. However, despite this being a regular monthly thing for women, there are still some who can’t afford to buy menstrual products on a monthly basis. This phenomenon is called period poverty.
Period poverty is real. It happens and is happening in many low-income countries and developing
countries including mine, Malaysia. Several NGOs in Malaysia have begun to alert the government
regarding this issue – since the lack of data on period poverty (in Malaysia) shows that this issue is
still yet to be given attention.
Marginalized communities in Malaysia have been those who are severely affected by this. Ever since
the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the number of women who do not have proper access to menstrual products has increased. The pandemic has caused many families to lose their source of income, thus making it much more impossible for these marginalized communities to be able to have access to monthly menstrual products.
"Period poverty needs to end, period."
Recent data collected revealed that these girls and women, sadly, had to resort to using old unused
clothes, coconut husks, newspapers, and even banana leaves to curb the issue of inaccessibility to proper menstrual products. Not just that, there are also women who experience period poverty that had to resort to being pregnant in order to stop their monthly menstruation for at least nine months. It is a harsh reality and something needs to be done. The fact that menstrual products are not seen as a necessity is alarming. This issue is causing the cost of disposable menstrual products to still be considered expensive for some in the community.
Thankfully, we can see that organizations have increased the awareness of period poverty and are educating more people (privileged and underprivileged) on menstrual hygiene as well as promoting the use of reusable menstrual products, such as menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads.
Reusable menstrual products are considered since they may be able to lessen the burden of having to
fork out money on a monthly basis for something that is unavoidable for women and girls. Besides, reusable products are good for the environment.
I hope that with more awareness of period poverty, relevant national and international organizations will put more effort into providing and increasing access to good menstrual hygiene and affordable menstrual products to ease women and girls all over the world. Period poverty needs to end, period.