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Today's generosity Challenge was most interesting and one that had never crossed my mind as a form of giving.

Today I learnt the term "Period Poverty".
Period poverty is defined as the inability of a menstruating person to access sanitary products and safe, hygienic places in which to use them.

When we think of poverty, we usually think food, shelter or heating, but this just-as-devastating need goes almost totally unseen – and that only perpetuates the problem.

Here are the statistics of girls that have to drop out of school because of their period and the numbers are honestly jarring,
1 in 5 girls in US
1 in 5 girls in India and in some regions, like Maharashtra, that number is nearer to 4 in 5.

137,000 girls in UK regularly miss school because they can’t afford sanitary products. 40% have used toilet roll as a substitute. 
The bottom 40 per cent of households — also known as the B40 group in Malaysia uses coconut husks, newspaper sheets, and banana leaves in replacement hygienic products.
In Kenya, two-thirds of women and girls can’t afford sanitary pads.

Girls could miss up to 4 consecutive days of school every month because of their periods, meaning that they missed 10%–20% of school time, which seriously impacted on their achievement.

When a girl finishes secondary school, she is less likely to experience child marriage, face domestic abuse, and suffer from long-term health complications. As a result, educated women and girls are more likely to have fewer, healthier children, who are then, in turn, more likely to get an education and pull themselves out of poverty.

Poor menstrual hygiene management has been shown to result in a sense of shame, anxiety, and embarrassment that contributes to absenteeism and poor performance at school.  
Imagine the shame and stigma of living like this. As if hormones, spots, mood swings and dealing with changes in your body aren’t enough, many girls are being robbed of their dignity because of this issue. Missing school for several days every month impacts on girls’ educational achievements and sets up shame and low self-esteem at a time when they already have so much to deal with.

Celeste and I talked about this most interesting challenge over lunch. We talked about how ignorant we have been on this topic as perhaps in affluent Singapore, this issue isn't prevalent. Or is it? Considering US and UK are 1st world countries how much more this issue is around the world where the rich poor divide is significant. We talked about income inequality and living conditions of some of our under privileged aged.

We live in the oxymoronic modern yet traditional Singapore and to many in the country, this topic of bleeding is still very taboo.

Celeste and I discussed about how to make a meaningful contribution to fulfill the challenge. I wrote a text to Irene, who is the head of St. Vincent de Paul in my parish and shared with her what I learnt, hoping to see if I could contribute some products. While I await her favorable reply, I shared this new found education to friends. Betty responded saying that in Nepal, some women are made to live outside of their homes during their menstruating days as they were thought to be unclean. Some of these women died due to the cold harsh mountainous weather. This is honestly crazy.

I'm glad I embarked on this #40actsGenerosityChallenge, without it, this topic wouldn't have crossed my mind nor would I have stepped up to take action on it.

“…A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:24–29 NIV)

40acts: The Lent Generosity Challenge - Day 3 Period Poverty (Part 2)

School absenteeism during menstruation amongst adolescent girls in Delhi, India - Sep-Dec 2018

Too poor to buy sanitary pads, period poverty remains problem in Malaysia - 19 NOVEMBER, 2019

Why Periods Are Keeping Girls Out of School — and How You Can Help - 30 May 2018

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