Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15
Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.
(Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)
Period poverty is a social issue that is gaining increasing attention worldwide, but not something new. Generally, “period poverty” refers to the phenomenon where someone is lacking access to menstrual products, safe and hygienic spaces to handle periods, and the fundamental right to manage their menstruation with dignity without unnecessary shame and taboo.
One might doubt whether period poverty actually exists in a highly modernised city like Hong Kong, and indeed it is a question we are always asked. Surely, period poverty here may not be as extreme as some other places, but there are plenty of aspects we are lagging behind. At Free Periods Hong Kong, we define period poverty as a threefold issue: a lack of sufficient and quality products and a lack of knowledge or misconceptions about menstruation caused by the shaming of period and a society that is not period-friendly.
According to our estimation, the basic cost of one cycle’s worth of period product is equivalent to one pack of 5kg rice, which is around $60-70. Imagine a grassroots family with more than one person who menstruates, or with the need to use more expensive products due to various reasons, for example a heavier flow or skin allergy? A survey we have conducted shows that a striking 42% of respondents have tried saving money by not changing menstrual pads even when it is fully soaked or have been used for more than 4 hours. 27% of respondents would cut expenses on menstrual products for other expenses, mostly for food and childcare. We have heard the story of a secondary school girl in Hong Kong who said she would use each pad for at least 8 hours, and would cover the pads with toilet paper so that she doesn’t have to spend so much on pads. Stories like this are happening every day. Low-income women in Hong Kong are pressured financially to restrict their use or choice of menstrual products, or even skipping school because there’s insufficient products to prevent leakage in public. These all lead to mental stress and health threats, and hindrance to long-term personal development.
Aside from financial poverty, many in Hong Kong are affected by menstrual stigma, sometimes unknowingly. Many small things in daily life such as incomplete menstrual education, mainstream view of period blood as dirty and unlucky, and the association of menstruation with temper tantrum all contribute in making menstruation an unpleasant part of life. With the conventional belief of menstruation being unpleasant and not to be spoken of, it is essentially creating an environment where menstrual needs are dismissed rather than assisted. Worse, these often cause people to neglect the bodily signs of extreme pain or severe mood swings because they are dismissed as PMS, while there could be underlying health issues. This unspoken culture of menstruation is precisely why it is difficult for people to seek help on period-related issues in the workplace, schools, and medical settings. Menstrual leave is almost unheard of, very few employers offer access to menstrual products in the workplace. There are doctors who tell patients that their pain is “normal”, that it is just dysmenorrhea, that “pain is subjective”. Too often, we are told that menstruation is “your own problem”, not society’s problem, but people never choose to menstruate. It is an issue of basic human rights and dignity.
One of the more sustainable solutions is to create a comprehensive menstrual education kit that addresses menstruation positively and informatively. Currently, many of these are done as disguised product promotions, and often only provided for girls. However, menstrual education should be provided to everyone regardless of gender if we want to curate a world that is equipped with knowledge and understanding, both the foundation that can help dispel the lurking shaming and stigma of menstruation. In such, society can hopefully address the issue as they are and treat period poverty seriously, where the mental and physical aspect can be alleviated and the financial hardship can be acknowledged.
Every 28 May, the Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness of menstrual hygiene and period poverty. This May, we are delighted to have joint hands with our lead sponsor Hactl and co-organiser Onebite to organise the Be My Buddy Buddy Exhibition. The 4-day event will kickstart on 25 May. We will provide lively and interesting menstrual knowledge and multiple perspectives for you to understand menstruation, so you will no longer feel embarrassed discussing the issue. In addition to the exhibition, we have organised multiple talks and activities related to menstruation, allowing everyone, regardless or sex and gender, to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. Come and join us as a period pal and work together for menstrual equity!
World Migratory Bird Day 2023 was celebrated on 13th of May. This annual campaign reminds every one of the urgency to conserve migratory birds and their habitats. It echoes The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) ’s mission which is to promote appreciation and protection of birds and their habitats.
HKBWS is a non-government organization, founded in 1957, with a vision of "People and birds living in harmony as nature continues to thrive." Our work ranges from scientific research, habitat management, and education to conservation advocacy.
Wild birds, especially migratory birds, are facing multiple threats worldwide. Urban development not only causes the ongoing loss of suitable habitats, but buat also creates death traps that are threatening the survival of birds. Amongst these traps, bird-window collision is one of the major killers.
Bird-window collisions refer to when birds fail to recognise a glass curtain wall or mirror as an obstacle and mistakenly think they can fly into it, thus hitting the building and causing injury or even death.
HKBWS has released its first report on bird-window collisions in Hong Kong. The report consolidates the data collected during the period from September to December last year. A total of 179 deaths and 17 injuries were recorded in the bird-window collision cases in these four months. Seven of them are species of conservation concern, such as the globally “Critically Endangered” Yellow-breasted Bunting, and the nationally Class II protected species Northern Boobook.
The window collision victims were distributed across multiple districts in Hong Kong. Various types of structures were involved in collision events, for example, buildings and shopping malls with extensive glass or mirror facades, transparent noise barriers, glass railings, and village houses with glass doors and windows. Bird window collisions may pose a challenge to local biodiversity, and even more, to the protection of globally threatened species. We must not overlook such risks.
It’s time to work together to save the birds and turn Hong Kong into a Bird-Friendly City.
What can we do as a member of the public?
To fully understand the seriousness of bird-window collision in Hong Kong, we must continue recording the situation and further expanding our monitoring. We would like to invite all of you to participate in our Bird Collision Monitoring Campaign by reporting bird collision cases to the Global Bird Collision Mapper, and support our work. You will get an anti-bird collision tee in return for a donation of $400 or above.
What if you are the property owners, developers, or architects?
One way to prevent bird-window collisions is to design your buildings and the surrounding landscape in a way that is safe for birds. Apart from reducing the use of transparent or reflective glass materials, you can consider using bird-friendly glass and leaving sufficient buffer between the greening area and the glass. For those existing buildings, you can start a monitoring scheme to identify the potential collision risk in your properties. If there is an area of high risk, you should apply treatments on the outside surface to help the birds see the glass as a barrier, such as putting up stickers with a dense pattern that has a maximum gap of 5 cm.
Changing our ways to use lights at night can also be a way to reduce bird-window collisions. Birds are easily disorientated by artificial light during migration at night. They are very often attracted to the urban areas where glass elements are commonly found, thus increasing their chance of colliding with buildings. We can adopt bird-friendly lighting strategies to reduce the risk, such as turning off non-flashing lights at night.
To prevent bird collisions in the long run, regulations and policies are also crucial. The Hong Kong government can refer to the practice of other countries and consider introducing new laws to ensure bird-friendly elements are incorporated into all building designs. Like in New York, a new law has taken effect in 2021 that requires all new construction and alteration of buildings to use bird friendly materials and designs.
Lastly, we once again call for your support and participation in our long-term data collection, monitoring, analysis and policy advocacy. Let us all work together and help create a safer and better environment for birds living in and passing through Hong Kong, such that we can move towards our vision of "People and birds living in harmony as nature continues to thrive."
I'd like to share this song with you all this morning, I want to dedicate Up&Up by Coldplay