Homeless Period: a growing problem
For homeless women, it really is that dreaded time of the month. With limited or no access to sanitary products, they’re often forced to go without. This initiative believes that tampons and towels should be made available through homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms.
In the UK it is estimated that around 21% of the population, some 13 million people, are living in poverty, a significant proportion of which experience what is sometimes termed “deep poverty”. Due to the rise in poverty in the UK, this has caused much stricter benefit criteria and entitlement to foodbanks, which has caused a rise in people in need of foodbank services and not receiving it. Consequently, meaning that this demographic are also at risk of hygiene poverty, with a poll from charity “In Kind” revealing that consequently more people are “forced to choose between eating and keeping clean. Menstrual sanitary products are items women struggle to budget for in order to be able to afford food, which indicates that where food insecurity is experienced it is likely that period poverty is also an issue. Of this increase in poverty, women are particularly vulnerable. Although many women may have attained economic independence from their spouse or partner through increased participation in the labour force, for a considerable number, the price of independence has been compromised by financial distress and dependence on welfare.
A House of Commons Library research report revealed that the £8 billion total to be raised from benefit and service cuts in the 2010 budget, £6 billion would come from women. As women are more susceptible to be impacted by poverty, financial difficulties could lead to increased risk of being affected by homelessness. Although there are difficulties involved with gaining a true representation of female homelessness. One reason that homeless women can seem less visible than homeless men is that often they will use domestic violence services on becoming homeless rather than homeless shelters. A 2010 UK study of domestic violence services indicated that homeless women who had used domestic violence systems were not being recorded as being homeless. Empirical research on homelessness in Britain has typically focused on rough sleepers and hostel use which tends to suggest that homelessness is predominantly experienced by men. However, there is a growing awareness that women experience homelessness in a different and less visible way from men.
In Scotland one of the biggest advocates on this issue is MSP Monica Lennon. She has launched a campaign calling for the Scottish government to provide free sanitary products for anyone who needs them. Monica will be working with various organisations to bring forward a private member’s bill to eradicate period poverty in Scotland.
For more information and donations go to Homeless Period Edinburgh.
All over the world people are making a stand to help homeless women get access to female hygiene products, like Jacki Huntington who shows us with this video the situation in some parts of California and how people are helping.
Information and pictures: Homeless Period Edinburgh.
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