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A Gen Z problem? Inflation in Australia is hurting young menstruating women more as they cannot afford pads and tampons

Representative image. AFP

Australia’s inflation and cost of living crisis is causing a menstrual health crisis in the country, with many women unable to afford menstrual products like sanitary napkins and tampons.

A survey by Plan International Australia found that 57% of 517 menstruating adults born before 1980 find it harder to pay for menstrual products.

However, the populations most affected are those born after 1997 or Generation Z. As many as 64% of the Gen Z population reported having more difficulty covering the costs of menstrual hygiene products such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups.

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Meanwhile, people with incomes below $50,000 a year struggle to afford painkillers and menstrual management medications. Some 47% said their inability to buy these products affected their mental health, and 16% of Gen Zers said it impacted their education.

Plan International Australia’s chief executive, Susanne Legena, said: “It’s a fixed cost to women and girls that you can’t avoid, so you’re very indebted to the market that way. It is a cost that [women and girls] endure that boys and men don’t.

She added: “At the heart of it, there is still so much stigma attached to women who bleed. It’s not something that’s talked about very freely, it’s not talked about a lot in popular culture, it doesn’t sit well with some of the stereotypes of femininity.

Sparking a debate about health complications, one in five women said they no longer switch single-use products often to cut costs.

Australia’s cost of living crisis

According to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released earlier this month, every household in the country experienced an increase in the annual cost of living in the March quarter of 2023.

The head of price statistics at ABS said: “The cost of living for salaried households recorded the highest annual increase of all household types, at 9.6%; the largest increase since this series began in 1999.”

“The last time the CPI recorded an annual increase of 9.6% was in 1986,” she added.

Cost of living indices include parameters such as mortgage interest costs.

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