On International Women’s Day, the peak body for obstetrics and gynaecology is calling for government action to enable free access for women and girls to sanitary products
In Australia, more than three million people, or one in eight, live below the poverty line, notes the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Over half of this number are women and girls who live with the recurring costs of menstruation despite their financial situation, says RANZCOG.
Factors such as childbearing, unpaid care work and superannuation stalling, place women at increased risk of experiencing sustained poverty. Women who are a single parent, experiencing violence, homelessness, living through natural disaster or in female-led households are more vulnerable, the organisations says.
RANZCOG President, Dr Vijay Roach says, “No woman or girl should have to compromise their health or confidence because they cannot afford the products they need to stay healthy.
“Around the world there are movements to end period poverty and we should be following suit.”
RANZCOG says it believes removing the cost of menstruation is a step towards making this goal reality.
The call follows a vote in the Scottish Parliament which is set to see feminine hygiene products become available at no cost to users.
Likely channels for the free pads and tampons in Scotland include pharmacies, as well as youth clubs and community centres.
Dr Roach told the AJP that in terms of distribution, wider consultation would need to occur to find a model that works for Australian communities and context.
“The Scottish legislation and roll-out is a good point of reference,” he said.
“We can learn from what is happening there and adapt to suit our needs.
“It is important, however, that whatever solution is reached is as accessible and equitable as possible.
“We must ensure that solutions are community-centric and utilise spaces that are safe and inclusive.”