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Periods in a Pandemic: how UK period poverty initiatives are mitigating Covid-19 related challenges

This project explores how period poverty initiatives have been mitigating the negative effects of coronavirus in order to inform policy in this and future crisis.

Periods in a pandemic large

Researchers

Research background

Period poverty is widely recognised as the difficulty people may experience accessing period products often as a result of financial constraints.  It also includes a poverty of education, resources, rights and freedom from stigma for women, girls and those who menstruate.  

Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the project will assess how period poverty initiatives are coping during the pandemic as they continue to support those experiencing period poverty, highlighting both potential gaps in provision and innovative solutions.

This comes as findings from Plan International UK’s recent report indicate that 11 per cent of girls aged 14-21 have not been able to afford period products since March 2020, instead resorting to makeshift products such as toilet roll, socks, fabric or paper.  Covid-19 continues to highlight gender inequalities within society, with menstrual health remaining low priority in terms of policy and strategy. This project is crucial to informing current practice and policy within the ongoing crisis and any future crises, ensuring women and girls’ voices are centralised and their menstrual health is not compromised.

Research aims 

The project will provide insight into how UK based period poverty initiatives and projects are mitigating challenges linked to Covid-19. 

The project will examine what the current needs of those experiencing period poverty are, whether the pandemic has affected their needs regarding menstruation, and how initiatives/projects are continuing to meet the needs of those experiencing period poverty within the UK identifying any gaps in provision.  The project will include vulnerable and marginalised women, girls and menstruators, in addition to highlighting any new or emerging groups that are experiencing period poverty during the pandemic.

Research methods

In order to address the above questions, applied research methodologies will be used to collect and analyse data. Mixed methods will be utilised to obtain data about the ongoing 'real world' situation, and findings will be continuously fed back to those on the ‘frontline’ and that have policy influence. 

Projected outcomes 

Findings will be shared with relevant period poverty networks and organisations, so they can be used to further meet the needs of women and girls, helping to increase their visibility within the pandemic situation.  Our project advisory group will have a significant role in providing guidance on the best ways to share information, ensuring that policy influencers and makers are informed of relevant findings.  The advisory group comprises of a number of key strategic NGOs within the UK, with the remit of empowering women and girls, ensuring gender equality.  The advisory group membership presently includes Plan International UK, Irise International and Fawcett Society, all of whom are already working on Covid-19 responses to make women and girls more visible within the pandemic and their voices heard.

The project outcomes will also include suggested guidance for future crisis situations where 'normal service' provision is disrupted.