​There's been a Virtual Symposium on Menstrual Health and Hygiene in West and Central Africa. There's a whole day internationally dedicated to Menstrual Hygiene, on May 28 each year. There are many reports on period poverty. But the voices that aren't heard enough are those of the people menstruating themselves.

Girls are on the front lines of almost all issues facing the world today. They face gender-based violence including in situations of war and conflict, suffer increased exposure to violence because of climate change, and, because women make up 90% of frontline health care workers globally, they’re on the front lines of health crises too. But despite being the most affected by these issues, their voices are often sidelined and they don't have a seat at the table.

Another issue that women and girls are on the front line of is mensutral equity (or lack of). Of course, getting a period is not an issue that should hold women and girls back. But the sad reality is that it often does, for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, sanitary products don’t come cheap. With an average pack of sanitary pads in Nigeria costing around US$2 for a pack of 7 (based on local market research), many families cannot afford the cost of buying multiple packs every month. This is part of what is known as period poverty — and it affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide.

Period poverty goes beyond just the financial burden of buying sanitary products, however, it is also the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.

In addition to period poverty, taboos, myths, and stigma associated with menstruation continue to restrict how women and girls can move and work in their daily lives, setting behavioural restrictions, contributing to gender-based discrimination, restricting access to jobs and education, and holding back the fight for gender equality.

In May 2022, the Global Citizen x BeyGOOD Fellowship, composed of fellows from Nigeria and South Africa, embarked on a project to raise awareness of period poverty. As part of this project, we wanted to centre the voices of adolescent girls. So, when we ran menstrual health awareness workshops in schools in South Africa and Nigeria, we also asked those attending the workshops to weigh in on what menstrual equity means to them. This is what they said.

Read the full article about menstrual equity by Gideon Fakomogbon, and Blossom Egbude at Global Citizen.