Having access to menstrual products is essential to a woman’s life. Lacking these products can interrupt women’s daily schedules, including their education and work. As South America’s economy declines due to the global pandemic, many women are unable to afford feminine products. Period poverty in the region is now a challenge that women must overcome by creating alternative menstrual products. According to ‘South America Feminine Hygiene Market Outlook, 2027’ by Bonafide Research, even though the region is one of the lowest contributor to the global market, it is to grow with a high CAGR over 6.5% through the forecasted period.
In Argentina, the first generation of disposable pads was launched by the end of the 1930s; tampons arrived in the late 1960s through the 1970s, but they have not achieved the same level of acceptance as in the United States. Modess from Johnson & Johnson was the main brand of the first generation of pads. Kotex arrived in Argentina around 2010, almost a century after its appearance in the American market. Johnson & Johnson’s O.B. tampons were launched almost simultaneously in the United States and Argentina; they are the generic name of tampons in Argentina, although today there are many other brands in the local market. While pads were advertised in Argentina just one decade after the American market, tampons lagged by three to four decades. Both cultural and political factors contributed to this lag. One reason for this is that the tampon required women to be willing to touch their own genitalia and have some knowledge about it. In this highly conservative society, where Catholic influence on the culture and the interruption of a dictatorship slowed the development of feminist movements, these requirements were often missing.
Steadfast changes in the lifestyle of women in key feminine hygiene products markets such as Argentina and Brazil are estimated to propel the market for feminine hygiene products in South America. In addition to this, a rising number of women leading an active lifestyle, increasing hygiene awareness, and continuous product innovation are some factors that are likely to influence the utilization of sanitary protection products significantly in the region during the forecasted period.
However, the coin has two sides. Period poverty in the region causes a great deal of distress. The governments have not adequately addressed the importance of menstrual and sexual products. The lack of these products obstructs women’s education and work. Innovative women are introducing creative, handcrafted and sustainable solutions to period poverty in South America, but widespread change is necessary to improve the lives of women who cannot afford traditional menstrual products.
In the countries of Las Americas, the proliferation and dissemination of disposable menstrual management technologies occurred at different times, depending on the markets’ geography, social class, race, and age. Beyond these particulars, the overall impact of this process can be seen in the global, multimillion-dollar market consolidated by these companies. The major Femcare companies continue to expand, testing new rhetoric that in some cases deeply challenges menstrual stigma. Simultaneously, they are facing competition from new menstrual management technologies, such as reusable products or contraceptives that suppress menstrual bleeding.