Redefining Period Equity: A Call for Thoughtful Action By Chioma Nwigwe


In recent years, there has been stronger discourse around eliminating the pervasive yet often overlooked issue of period poverty. Historically, the intersection of menstruation and poverty has been shrouded in silence and stigma, perpetuating cycles of inequality and marginalization. It was not until the early 21st century that concerted efforts began to unveil the depth of this challenge, shedding light on the harsh realities faced by millions of women worldwide who lack access to adequate menstrual products, education, and support. 

Since then, significant strides have been made globally towards eliminating period poverty, with numerous impactful initiatives and policy changes paving the way. For instance, Scotland became the first country to provide free period products to anyone who needs them, setting a global precedent. Similarly, New Zealand introduced free sanitary products in schools, ensuring that students have access to essential menstrual hygiene products. In Nigeria, grassroots movements, advocacy campaigns, and policy initiatives have emerged, driving progress towards greater awareness, inclusivity, and tangible solutions. Despite the impressive strides, over 37 million girls in Nigeria alone continue to endure period poverty. As a result, there remains a critical need for thoughtful, systemic action to address the underlying barriers that perpetuate inequality. 

At the heart of the matter lies the concept of period equity—a vision where every female, regardless of socioeconomic status, or geography, has equitable access to menstrual health resources, education, and support. While this may seem like an ambitious goal, it’s one that we must collectively strive towards if we are to build a more just and inclusive society.

To achieve period equity, we must first recognize and confront the multifaceted nature of the challenge. While providing access to menstrual hygiene products and promoting access to menstrual hygiene education is incredibly helpful, the bigger challenge lies in dismantling the entrenched systems of stigma, shame, and inequality that marginalize menstruators in Nigeria.

Thoughtful action begins with education. By integrating comprehensive menstrual health education into school curricula and community programs, we can empower individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed choices about their bodies and health. This education must go beyond the biological aspects of menstruation to address the social, cultural, and economic factors that influence menstrual health outcomes.

Furthermore, we must confront the structural barriers that limit access to menstrual hygiene products and services. This means advocating for policies and programs that ensure affordable, sustainable, and culturally appropriate menstrual products are available to all, regardless of income or location. It also means challenging discriminatory practices that restrict access to menstrual health resources, such as taxes on menstrual products or restrictions on menstrual leave.

But achieving period equity requires more than just policy change; it demands a shift in societal attitudes and norms. We must challenge the pervasive stigma surrounding menstruation and foster open, inclusive dialogue that celebrates menstruation as a natural and normal part of life. By elevating the voices and experiences of menstruators, we can break down the barriers of shame and silence that too often surround this essential aspect of human health.

Promoting more sustainable menstrual products will significantly reduce the number of women experiencing period poverty. Because it has a longer shelf life, women can invest in them once and use them for several years, which reduces the ongoing financial burden of purchasing menstrual products every month. Additionally, sustainable products are often designed to be more durable and cost-effective over time, making them a practical solution for women who cannot afford to regularly buy disposable pads or tampons. By making these products more accessible and educating women on their benefits, we can help alleviate the financial strain associated with menstrual hygiene and improve overall menstrual health.This is why at Safety for Every Girl, we only distribute reusable products. Our products have a shelf life of up to two years and when we work in partnership with local distributors, they offer a shelf life of up to one year. This ensures beneficiaries stay out of the period poverty cycle for longer durations. . 

As thought leaders in the field of menstrual health, it’s incumbent upon us to lead by example and advocate for meaningful change. The journey towards menstrual equity remains a complex and multifaceted one, demanding continued dedication and innovation to dismantle systemic barriers and ensure that menstruation is no longer a barrier to dignity, opportunity, and well-being. This Menstrual Hygiene Month, let us recommit ourselves to the pursuit of period equity and work tirelessly to create a world where menstruation is celebrated, not stigmatized—a world where every individual has the opportunity to menstruate with dignity, pride, and equity.


Chioma Nwigwe is a lawyer, brand strategist, senior project manager and period health advocate and the founder of Safety For Every Girl foundation. She holds a Master of Laws in International Development from the University of Nottingham, UK. Her interest in period health was born out of personal experiences and a plastic intolerance that made disposable pads and periods a traumatic experience for 13 years. Determined to find alternative solutions to disposable pads, she went into research and uncovered a far more profound challenge experienced by millions of girls in Nigeria and Africa at large – period poverty. After years of research and visiting several slum communities in Nigeria, she founded Safety For Every Girl to ensure a world where every girl has access to sustainable, safe and hygienic period products. In January 2023, she partnered with MTN to launch the first annual Safety For Every Girl National Essay.   


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