Japanese Survey on “Period Poverty” Finds Need to Address the ProblemHealth Society
In February 2022, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare conducted its first survey on “period poverty” in which some women are unable to purchase sanitary products for economic reasons. Responses were obtained from 3,000 women throughout Japan between the ages of 18 and 49 regarding their experiences acquiring menstrual products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among all respondents, 8.1% said they “frequently” or “occasionally” had difficulty acquiring menstrual products. The rate was more than 10% among those aged from 18 to 29. By annual household income, 13.2% of those with “no income” said they had difficulties, 16.8% of those with a household income of less than ¥1 million, and 11.6%, of those with a household income between ¥1 and 3 million. This shows that period poverty is a real problem for low-income families.
Asked how they dealt with the problem, 50% said that they frequently or occasionally “changed pads or tampons less often.” A high number said they “used tissue paper” or were given what they needed by a “family member or housemate.” The survey also showed that difficulty acquiring sanitary products compelled many respondents to cancel personal plans and negatively impacted their child-rearing and caregiving activities.
In a report titled, “Policy Priorities to Promote Women’s Activities and Gender Equality 2021,” the government clearly states it will endeavor to eradicate “period poverty” by subsidizing the distribution of menstrual sanitary products and improving counseling programs. There is a growing movement among municipalities, schools, and some commercial facilities to provide free menstrual sanitary products, but 64.4% of the survey respondents said they were unaware of such programs.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)