Women’s Health: What kind of stigma are students across Australia experiencing when it comes to their period?
Robyn Llewellyn: Stigma associated with periods is still a very real issue in Australia, which can negatively impact the wellbeing of our young people. Recent research by Kimberly-Clark, owner of Australia’s largest period care brand U by Kotex, revealed one in five students feel too embarrassed to go to school when they have their period. For girls aged 10-14 years, this increases to one in three. In addition, 29 per cent of menstruating students aged 10-18 years said they were afraid of being teased about their periods at school. Fear of leakage and changing products at school exacerbates period stigma and even leads to absenteeism, with nearly half (47 per cent) of menstruating students aged 10-18 years missing school for this reason.
What do you think is needed to ensure students are armed with the education and resources they need when it comes to menstruation?
Our research shows only half of menstruating students in Australia are receiving information about menstruation and period products at the age when they most need it. Recent evidence has shown that the average age of the first period is now in primary school, so earlier education is necessary to ensure that this experience is an empowering rite of passage rather than a traumatic one.
We firmly believe that greater education for all students, regardless of gender, is required to normalise periods and stamp out stigma.
Providing greater access to menstrual products should also be part of the solution and we applaud the state governments and territories that are taking action by introducing free period products in public schools.
How is Kimberly-Clark helping to end the stigma preventing young Australians from attending school?
Kimberly-Clark and U by Kotex are aiming to educate five million people across Australia and New Zealand to fight menstrual stigma, as well as alleviate period poverty for 500,000 people by 2030. We are doing this through the U by Kotex “What’s Happening to You” menstrual education program, which has already been completed by one million students.
Kimberly-Clark also supports Share the Dignity and Plan International in Australia - the charity for girls’ equality - to address period poverty and stigma; and to help create a world where periods do not hold people back from reaching their full potential.
For those wanting to contribute to the cause, how can we help?
Kimberly-Clark is calling on all menstruators to complete Share the Dignity’s Period Pride survey to help us further understand the stigma and shame that people who menstruate experience. Share the Dignity has a goal of receiving 100,000 responses and for the first 10 000 surveys completed, Kimberly-Clark will donate 10,000 packets of U by Kotex pads to Share the Dignity to distribute to those in need.