The XX Factor

Tampons: A Universal Human Right?

Here’s a regular statistic, and then a shocking one: Every month, a large percentage of the world’s adult population menstruates. But in emerging markets, that group can scarcely afford the protection. Women worldwide are no longer exiled to tents and deemed “unclean”-but according to the She28 Campaign, a fledgling advocacy group, many thousands are still forced to exit their daily lives and livelihoods during their monthly periods. Watch:

I am not sure that the execution of this video campaign is the most compelling-but this strikes me as a totally underreported reality. Women in developed nations take for granted the drugstores and Costcos in which tampons are readily available, but perhaps ignore the Herculean struggle to manage one’s monthly flow in resource-poor regions of the world.

From a holistic policy perspective, marrying the education of girls and women with the provision of sanitary napkins seems like the right move. Public schools worldwide should support young women who might otherwise miss crucial elements of their education or career by offering pads and tampons free of charge. Certainly this basic commodity should be treated as integral to female development-as important to U.S. aid policy as maize and malaria nets. As we know , educating women and offering them a means to understand and regulate their fertility is a key component of economic progress in developing nations.

Perhaps we could use some of that money that the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee recently appropriated for abstinence-only education?