Understanding Period Poverty: Socio-Economic Inequalities in Menstrual Hygiene Management in Eight Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Journal Article


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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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Menstrual hygiene management and health is increasingly gaining policy importance in a bid to promote dignity, gender equality and reproductive health. Effective and adequate menstrual hygiene management requires women and girls to have access to their menstrual health materials and products of choice, but also extends into having private, clean and safe spaces for using these materials. The paper provides empirical evidence of the inequality in menstrual hygiene management in Kinshasa (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rajasthan (India), Indonesia, Nigeria and Uganda using concentration indices and decomposition methods. There is consistent evidence of wealth-related inequality in the conditions of menstrual hygiene management spaces as well as access to sanitary pads across all countries. Wealth, education, the rural-urban divide and infrastructural limitations of the household are major contributors to these inequalities. While wealth is identified as one of the key drivers of unequal access to menstrual hygiene management, other socio-economic, environmental and household factors require urgent policy attention. This specifically includes the lack of safe MHM spaces which threaten the health and dignity of women and girls.