The rise of ‘period poverty’ in the UK

In recent years, there has been a growing concern from politicians, journalists and activists alike about a rise in people in the UK who are unable to afford menstrual products on a regular basis. The rise in so-called ‘period poverty’ has been reportedly linked to enforced austerity measures by the current government. ‘Period poverty’ is said to result in a wide array of issues (ranging from hiding away from public life during menstruation to various healthcare concerns). A recent survey of 1000 women and girls by Plan International UK, suggests that ‘period poverty’ could effect 1 in 10 girls in the UK.

Many high profile public figures are increasingly speaking up about ‘period poverty’ (from royals, to models, to filmmakers, to celebrities, to politicians), alongside charity groups stepping in to try and stem ‘period poverty’, as this distinctly classed and gendered inequality occupies mainstream public debate. This increasing focus on ‘period poverty’ has resulted in a rise in representations of menstruation and poverty, visible through news media, social media, television and filmmaking since early 2016.


The ‘Period Poverty’ Project

The way ‘period poverty’ is shown in the media highlights new social and cultural formations within the current moment of austerity as narratives of gender inequality, feminist activism and social justice come to the foreground. As of yet, despite this surge of public and media discussion, there is little academic investigation into ‘period poverty’. There is little research that analyses how ‘period poverty’ is shown in the media, considers how such representations are made meaningful by people and if this all challenges or furthers current social inequalities under austerity.

Project Aims

Through conducting interviews and analysing demographic information, policy and media representations, The ‘Period Poverty’ Project aims to:

  • Analyse the representational and empirical landscape of ‘period poverty’
  • Examine how social inequalities materialise through this landscape
  • Examine the relationship between representations of ‘period poverty’ and empirical experiences of ‘period poverty’
  • Further theoretical understandings of how culture shapes the social through investigating the relationship between the representation of ‘period poverty’ and empirical experiences of ‘period poverty’

About the Researcher

The ‘Period Poverty’ Project is run by Sara De Benedictis, a Lecturer in Media and Communications at Brunel University London. Sara has worked on various research projects at Goldsmiths College, the London School of Economics and the University of Nottingham on issues relating to gender, class and media. Prior to doing her PhD at King’s College London (2016), Sara worked as a researcher in the women’s sector. You can learn more about Sara’s work on her Brunel staff page.

Funding

The ‘Period Poverty’ Project is kindly funded by a BRIEF award from Brunel University London.

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