#27 Fighting Period Poverty One Conversation At A Time with Victoria Abrahams

The more we make periods the norm, the less will be the circumstances where people punish themselves for it.

– Victoria Abrahams

When talking about social stigmas associated with female bodies, many exclude western countries from being affected by discomfort in discussing bodily processes of women. However, this only dilutes the issue of female inequality and discrepancies in treatment of women and men across sectors. Period poverty, defined by Freedom4Girls as a lack of affordability and access to sanitary products worsened by poor education and social stigma, is a massive problem affecting the UK. Every single month, menstruating females in the UK suffer from period poverty, such as 40% using toilet paper as a makeshift period pad and 1 in 7 girls starting their periods don’t understand what’s happening to their bodies.

Inability to talk about and properly manage periods is indicative of the patriarchy that dominates across the world, whether in the UK or a developing country, and the failure of systems to tend to basic women needs, priorities and rights. Freedom4Girls, a UK-based charity that fights period poverty in the UK, Kenya and Uganda, identifies the similarities in period stigma between the countries and helps to eliminate the issue through using the tool of education through empowerment projects for girls from all different backgrounds.

In this episode, Victoria Abrahams, the operations manager and lead for the Uganda program, talks about everything there is to period poverty, from the formation of Freedom4Girls by Tina Leslie, her own journey from a prison law consultant to volunteer at the charity and the immense amount of help Freedom4Girls has provided for vulnerable females in the UK and Africa. Grassroot work for destigmatisation of periods and female sexual health issues is key, however Victoria heavily emphasises the significance of engaging in conversations about female bodies to ensure every female is able to care for their bodies in the ways that they feel comfortable.

Episode Structure:

  • Tina Leslie’s journey in creating Freedom4Girls and Victoria’s own journey into the charity
  • Definition of period poverty and the three pillars of the charity’s work: education, increasing access to sanitary products and remove period stigma
  • The similarities between period poverty and stigma in the UK and Africa
  • Period poverty worsened by society’s inability to encourage women to explore their bodies and be educated at a young age by schools
  • The problem of commoditising periods to plastic, non-reusable and unsustainable products and how Freedom4Girls gets around that issue
  • How the pandemic has heavily impacted females unable to buy a constant supply of period products, especially mothers
  • Achievements of Freedom4Girls, both in Africa and the UK
  • Overall message of the charity encouraging all genders to see periods as a normal and hygienic female body process that needs to be maintained well

Resources:


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