Entrance to a female toilet

Study to help tackle period poverty in the North West

Dr Supriya Garikipati from the University of Liverpool's Management School is collaborating with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) to evaluate period poverty among impoverished women in North West England.

The study led by LSTM’s Professor Penelope Phillips-Howard and team, will explore women’s experiences and perspectives of managing menstruation under circumstances of deprivation to guide a protocol for a large-scale menstrual study to reduce period poverty.

Researchers will partner with organisations offering sheltered accommodation and food banks to recruit impoverished and homeless women using these services in central Liverpool.

The women will take part in focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Shelter and foodbank staff will also document their understanding and experience of the scope of period poverty among these targeted women.

Need for formal research 

Supriya Garikipati notes: “Data on period poverty in the UK is limited to anecdotal descriptions of shame and stigma, with some girls reporting use of socks or toilet paper as absorbents due to a lack of sanitary products. We need formal, in-depth research to understand the nature and scale of this issue.”

The study analysis will consider women’s knowledge, access to materials and supplies, and their social environment. A second ecological model will be utilised to understand wider policy, societal and environmental components.

Impact on wider public health

The findings will form the basis for recommendations to be shared amongst key stakeholders and policy makers. This will include anonymous case studies from consenting individuals who have participated in the in-depth interviews.

A presentation of the study and its findings will be delivered to interested parties, including DFID to help inform their UK-based strategy to end period poverty by 2030, and to local authorities for decision-making on provision of education and materials to impoverished homeless women in the region.

“By evaluating the scope and health risks associated with period poverty in the UK, this research will help determine the wider public health implications among the most impoverished populations,” says Supriya.

The group then aims to conduct a further study comprising of action research to evaluate the implementation, beneficiary acceptability, and effectiveness of delivering menstrual solutions – for example educational and advisory materials and a variety of menstrual products - to impoverished women.

This study is funded through UKRI’s New Vision for Public Engagement.

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