Saturday, September 18, 2021

Awareness slowly rising about period poverty

The Selayang Municipal Council has been distributing sanitary kits to those who cannot afford the items needed for basic personal hygiene.

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Awareness is slowly but surely growing about period poverty, a problem affecting many among the urban poor in which women are unable to afford sanitary napkins or pads for their monthly menstruation.

Following a MalaysiaNow report on the issue in January, the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) began an initiative for the donation of sanitary kits in the Kampung Melayu Pekan area in Rawang.

Muhammad Najmi Samsudin, a member of the Zone 15 residents’ committee, has contributed 120 such kits comprising sanitary pads, lotion, wet wipes, soap and hand sanitiser.

“I was initially shocked to learn about period poverty. Because of that, the council began taking steps to help women who cannot afford these items,” he told MalaysiaNow.

“No doubt it looks easy but the reality is that there are many who cannot afford them.”

He said priority is given to those in the low-income bracket as women in this group often put their families’ needs above their own.

The issue of sanitary pads is a sensitive topic, he added, but the response from the local community has been encouraging.

“No doubt it looks easy but the reality is that there are many who cannot afford them.”

These kits are handed out at the Kampung Melayu Pekan Rawang village community hall and distributed door-to-door throughout the area.

“At first, I was afraid they would not want to come to the hall as this is a sensitive issue for women,” Najmi said.

“I was glad when they did, although some of the kits still need to be given out to individual homes.”

MalaysiaNow had reported that many from among the urban poor lack even the basic necessities for personal hygiene, a situation that could turn worse as the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on their already meagre finances.

Unable to afford pads, some women rely on rags or old towels when their periods arrive each month.

Najmi said MPS aims to make the distribution of sanitary kits an annual affair as part of its social responsibility to raise awareness about personal hygiene among women.

He added that awareness about the issue should be raised among men, too, as it involves their wives and children.

“Sometimes those living in flats are less affordable than those in rural areas as there is no maintenance, especially in terms of garbage and dengue problems,” he said.

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