Have period poverty rates risen?

01 Mar 2024

Share the Dignity launches new survey looking at periods and period poverty in line with March Dignity Drive. 

As cost-of-living soars, so to do period product requests from Share the Dignity’s charity partners for its biannual Dignity Drive. Request levels are currently sitting at 182,000 and rising, leading Australian charity Share the Dignity to worry about meeting the demand. 

A 2023 UNICEF report found one in six children in Australia are living in poverty or 41 per cent for kids in single-parent households. Share the Dignity has heard first-hand that when people struggle to make ends meet, pads and tampons are often the first thing to come off the shopping list. 

Kim has an understanding of making do to get by, having made pads out of cotton wool in an effort to manage her period with dignity while trying to make ends meet.

“There was a year or two where I used to use cotton wool that comes in a reel and is really cheap, I would layer toilet paper underneath it and try to manage my period that way,” Ms Hamson said.

“While it allowed me to get by at the time, in my experience it does take your dignity away.”

Throughout March Share the Dignity is collecting period products and incontinence aids in pink boxes at all Woolworths supermarkets nationwide, to ensure those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, domestic violence or poverty don’t have to risk their health and go through the indignity of using other items in place of period products.

Woolworths will also donate 5 cents from the sale of every period product purchased during the Drive, adding to the $2.7 million already donated to help support menstrual equity for all. The money raised has helped fund 109 Dignity Vending Machines across Australia which dispense free period packs at the push of a button. 

All period products and incontinence aids collected through the Dignity Drive will be distributed to Share the Dignity’s 3000+ charity partners, including community groups, domestic violence refuges, homeless shelters and other organisations supporting our most vulnerable community members. 

In line with the drive Share the Dignity will also be conducting its second Bloody Big Survey after 125,000 people responded to the first initiation in 2021. The first Bloody Big Survey is the world’s largest body of data on menstruation and now three years later Share the Dignity is hoping to discern whether period poverty rates have risen. 

The 2021 survey found some alarming statistics including how 1 in 5 people who menstruate have had to improvise on period products, but with inflation and the rising cost of living, Share the Dignity is concerned the 2024 Bloody Big Survey will find period poverty rates have skyrocketed. 

The Bloody Big Survey asks questions about period pain, affordability, period shame, period poverty, and other experiences and will be open from March 1 to May 31 with a goal of 200,000 respondents from women, girls and those who menstruate in Australia. 

Share the Dignity Founder and Managing Director, Rochelle Courtenay said Share the Dignity had some big goals this March in the hopes to ensure menstrual equity for Australians. 

“Every Dignity Drive I receive messages from our charity partners expressing their gratitude for the period products, it allows them to ensure their clients can deal with their period with dignity,” Ms Courtenay said.  

“If you have the means to do so, I urge you to drop period products into our collection points nationwide, you never know what someone is going through and at the very least let’s ensure women, girls and those who menstruate don’t have to use cotton wool, toilet paper or socks to manage their period.

“Not only do I hope to be able to collect the period products we need, but I hope we can make tangible change for future generations, by receiving at least 200,000 responses to our Bloody Big Survey. The data collected will help us advocate for change and allow us to show Australia how fundamentally important ensuring menstrual equity is.” 

For each survey completion up to 100,000, U By Kotex will be donating a packet of period products to Share the Dignity’s Dignity Drive to assist Share the Dignity in meeting the rising demand.  

Make an impact this March by donating period products to Share the Dignity’s Dignity Drive, find your closest collection point here. You can also help Share the Dignity create change by ensuring your voice is heard in Share the Dignity’s Bloody Big Survey here.