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Manuscript Submission Deadline 16 August 2022

It is estimated that half the world’s female population (over 1.9 billion individuals) go through menstruation every month. Yet, as normal as it seems, menstruation is still stigmatized around the world, particularly in developing countries with inadequate access to menstrual management and hygiene ...

It is estimated that half the world’s female population (over 1.9 billion individuals) go through menstruation every month. Yet, as normal as it seems, menstruation is still stigmatized around the world, particularly in developing countries with inadequate access to menstrual management and hygiene provisions. According to the UNFPA, period poverty describes the struggle many low-income menstruating people face while trying to afford menstrual products. The term also refers to the increased economic vulnerability menstruating people face due the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies. These include not only menstrual pads and tampons, but also related costs such as pain medication and underwear. Period poverty does not only affect menstruating people in developing countries; it also affects them in wealthy, industrialized countries. Difficulty affording menstrual products can cause women and girls to stay home from school and work, with lasting consequences on their educations and economic opportunities. It can also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing closer toward dangerous coping mechanisms.

The issues arising from period poverty hinder societies from attaining the UN goals of “Achieving gender equality” (#5) and ensuring everyone has access to clean water and sanitation measures (#6). Periods are often associated with shame and stigma, which might influence the education received by women and girls due to the absences of school they have to endure when not educated about their period. Around the world, it is commonly reported that children miss school while menstruating to avoid any bullying or negative cultural or social stigma that they might encounter. In the United States, low-income menstruating people struggle to access appropriate menstrual products, such as tampons, menstrual cups, and menstrual pads. This could be attributed to the taxes added to the price of these essential hygiene products, which render them a luxury rather than a basic need, and lack of freely available products.

Menstrual health is a crucial public health issue that has been affecting the physical, mental, and socioeconomic health of females globally. Period poverty is often classified into two categories: hardware period poverty and software period poverty. Hardware period poverty, also known as material deprivation, consists of the lack of access to affordable sanitary absorbents and adequate Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities. Menstruating people from developed and developing countries are at risk of experiencing this phenomenon because of the highly taxed menstrual amenities and related hygienic facilities. On the other hand, software period poverty, referred to as psychosocial/knowledge deprivation, is described as the lack of adequate education and basic knowledge on menstruation. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has adopted the terminology “financial vulnerability” for period poverty to refer to developing countries experiencing economic crises.

We seek studies that include critical reflection on the practice of preventive measures, intervention design and implementation, and policy strategies to deal with this gender-based and human rights issue. We also will accept systematic, scoping, or narrative reviews focused on the impact of period poverty, what has been done to address this global challenge, and what still needs to be addressed. Such studies may examine the role of multiple stakeholders at the different levels of the socioecological model to suggest sustainable solutions to this global problem affecting menstruating individuals of all ages. They can also discuss potential challenges faced in engaging the community and building collaborations to reduce the impact of period poverty on female quality of life.

The following list of topics is offered to stimulate innovative contributions to this research topic:
• Development and/or evaluation of evidence-based interventions to manage period poverty at the level of the household - either low-income countries (LICs), lower-middle-income countries (LMICs), upper-middle-income countries (UMICs), or high-income countries (HICs)
• Examining the impact of policies and/or strategies aiming to reduce the impact of period poverty on health and the economy of the affected country
• Evaluation of period poverty initiatives by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in LICs and middle-income countries (MICs)
• Assessment of period poverty among college students
• The impact of COVID-19 on period poverty rates
• Period poverty and vulnerable population groups (refugees, homeless, incarcerated)
• Impact of period poverty on diverse health outcomes
• Studies that examine stigma and menstrual health
• Impact of period poverty on Indigenous populations
• Impact of period poverty on water insecure population groups
• Period poverty and reproductive disorders (Endometriosis and Adenomyosis; Uterine Fibroids; Ovarian disorders, Reproductive tumors, etc.)

Keywords: menstrual equity, period poverty, women's rights, sanitary facilities, menstrual hygiene, menstrual health, human rights

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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