Period poverty increasingly hurting education of girls

Armoede maakt dat meisjes periodiek niet naar school kunnen...

Due to the massive increase in the cost of living this year and the significant increase in the prices of sanitary napkins, many schoolgirls do not go to school on the days they are menstruating, adversely affecting aspects such as their education, mental and physical health, and personality.

Most women and schoolchildren hide this topic, but there is a serious issue with regard to sanitary napkins. Many children do not attend school when they are on their period cycle. That is because they can’t afford to procure sanitary napkins. Providing food for the family comes first and therefore parents spend almost everything they earn on food. Then, they are unable to buy this kind of commodity for their children, which will have a serious impact on their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Noting that the prices of all items needed by schoolchildren such as stationery, school bags, and shoes have gone up, Parents’ ability to purchase all these with their income which has gone down in the prevailing economic crisis.

Moreover, several parents of school-going children, said that it has become impossible for them to purchase what their children need, such as stationery, bags, and shoes, after spending on day-to-day needs such as food items. They said that they have had to manage all these expenses with what they earn, which is the same as what they earned a few years ago or even less.

Meanwhile, the Doctors’ Union Alliance for Medical and Civil Rights, during a recent media briefing which was also attended by teachers’ trade unions’ representatives, stated that schoolgirls, university students, teachers, as well as public and private sector employees have been tempted to stay at home when menstruating, as they cannot afford to purchase sanitary napkins due to the steep rise in their prices.

Females between the ages of 13-49 years generally need sanitary napkins, adding that more than 50% of them, according to recent studies, cannot afford them. Parents who often cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins for their school-going children do not send their children to school on days they are menstruating.Using alternatives like old clothes instead of sanitary napkins can cause health problems. The education sector is one among many sectors that have been affected due to the prevailing economic crisis caused by the lack of foreign exchange reserves in the country. Furthermore, the CTU recently urged the Government to formulate an expeditious programme for schoolchildren to purchase exercise books and other stationery at concessionary prices, taking into account the rapidly increasing prices of such at present.

Rajakadaluwa is a rural village situated 150 Km north to Colombo. Most people in the village are fishermen, daily paid labourers, etc. With the no kerosene issue fishermen haven’t work in boats, Then no food for their families. They live with lot of burdens facing in economically, can’t afford to supply daily needs of their families.

Rajakadaluwa primary school is situated in village with grade 1 to grade 10. There are poor girls don’t have under pants to wear to school. When they come to school without under wears is a normal situation. But on the days they are menstruating in the school without under pants and pads blood spots make to see everybody on their school uniforms. School authorities give permission to them go back to their homes. This is very sad situation and Rev. Sr. Erandi The Principal of the Rajakadaluwa Primary school asked some help from Martin De Kegal Foundation.

We discussed this very unfair situation in the MDKF committee meeting and decided to do something for them.

Shiran Maithri 25.10.2022