Period poverty is without a question the new reality in Lebanon: Sanitary pads and menstrual products are becoming a luxury for women and girls! “I usually consume two packs of menstrual pads per period, I wonder if I will still be able to afford them in the future. The prices are going crazy and this is becoming an additional source of anxiety, not only for me, but for many others!” Says Salma, a 24-year-old young woman who will not be the only one in Lebanon suffering from period poverty.
One of the severe repercussions of the economic crisis was ignoring the needs of women and girls, and resorting to finding solutions away from them. The government’s response to the pandemic and the blast was not gendered and did not take into consideration these needs, even though women and girls are the ones who are severely affected in times of conflict or crises. In July 2020, seven “men” representatives of the ruling class met to discuss subsidizing basic commodities while excluding women’s products, and most importantly those related to menstruation and hygiene, bringing about a new crisis; period poverty.
As a grassroots organization in the frontlines supporting women and girls through every emerging struggle and need, Fe-Male organized two distribution events of more than 430 hygiene and protection kits in the affected area of Karantina-Beirut, through door-to-door reach out. No woman was excluded, and 790 women and girls from different backgrounds, age and nationalities benefited from those kits.
While projections indicate that more than half of the women will face period poverty by December 2020, the already existing hyperinflation in the prices of sanitary products (a 500% increase) has limited 66% of young women and girls living in Lebanon from buying sanitary pads, and the percentage is still in increase.
Meanwhile, Fe-Male is dedicated to exert every possible effort to achieve a long-term solution for this emerging crisis, and is planning to expand the distribution activities to other marginalized areas all over Lebanon.