Period poverty in focus on international awareness day

A young African woman holding a menstrual pad.

Karin Högberg is a Senior Lecturer in Caring Science who has been researching period poverty and sustainable menstrual protection since 2015. Together with Lena Berglin, Associate Professor in Textile Technology at the University of Borås, she works to develop the sustainable menstrual hygiene pad Spacerpad in collaboration with RISE, Erikshjälpen, Lindex, Rivatex, and I Choose Life - Africa and Project Baala.

On Menstrual Hygiene Day, they will participate in this theme day through seminars that illuminate related issues from different perspectives. The main subject is period poverty, which means that people lack the possibility of managing their menstrual hygiene in a safe and hygienic way. Many women cannot afford disposable protection, and alternatives such as menstrual cups or cloth pads do not work for everyone.

“This specific type of poverty humiliates girls and women to the extent that they would rather die than risk the shame of being seen with menstruation stains on their clothes,” said Karin Högberg.

11,000 sanitary pads over a lifetime

If period poverty means a lack of knowledge, menstrual hygiene management products, and infrastructure when it comes to water and hygiene, then “period richness” could be understood as the opposite. But there are also problems with period richness.

“Those who use disposable pads consume 11,000 over their lifetime. This is a significant burden on the environment because the pads are made from non-renewable materials,” said Karin Högberg.

The digital theme day is primarily aimed at those who work with these issues or research or study them.


09:00–09:10 Introduction, Moderator Åsa Gustavsson

09:10–09:30 The menstruating woman - biology and social questions.
Siw Alehagen, midwife, Assistant Professor of Nursing – Reproductive Health, Linköping University. 

09:40–10:00 From period poverty to period richness?
Åsa Larsson, midwife, doctorate in Caring Science, Karin Högberg, doctorate in Nursing, Project Leader of Spacerpad, University of Borås.

10:10–10:30 The example of Spacerpad, a research and development project with the aim of developing a reusable menstrual hygiene pad.
Lena Berglin, Associate Professor of Textile Technology, Max Anderhell, Research Assistant/Textile Engineer, Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås.

10:40–11:00 Children's rights also apply to menstruating girls.
Sara Norlén, Programme Advisor, Erikshjälpen

11:10–11:30 Sustainability work with the woman in focus.
Anna-Karin Dahlberg, Head of Sustainability, Lindex


12:30–12:50 Menstruation – an issue for the entire society, throughout the entire life.
Martina Nee, Equality and Inclusion Advisor, Water Aid

13:00–13:20 Sweden's international development collaboration: the major issues of our time.
Helena Lindholm, Professor of Peace and Development Research at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, chair of the Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA)

13:30–14:00 Period poverty – a question of gender equality.
Regina Mattsson, board member, UN Women Sweden

14:00–14:30 Question time and time to give feedback.

Register here

For registration and more information about the theme day (in Swedish)

The seminars will be held in Swedish, recorded and subtitled with Swedish and English subtitles. Not able to participate during the day but want to see the filmed presentations afterwards? Contact Karin Högberg to be informed on when the films are available.

Read more

Research project Spacerpad 
Karin Högberg
Lena Berglin