If you type into Google the words ‘Period Poverty’, you’ll return about 175,000,000 results. Granted, not all of them will be relevant but you’ll find loads that are.
It’s a subject matter that’s been in and out of the press over the last few years but what exactly is it?
According to Action Aid, period poverty affects women and girls all over the world where they are denied their rights to sanitary products, safe, hygienic spaces in which to use them and the right to manage menstruation without shame or stigma.
Helen Russell, the Feed the Minds’ Regional Development and Community Engagement Coordinator in Scotland writes, “The stigma and taboo surrounding menstruation has been rife worldwide for centuries, with girls and women being told that they are ‘unclean’, ‘dirty’ or made to feel shame for this perfectly natural bodily function” (feedtheminds.org).
So, what does that look like in the UK?
The Facts (source: freeperiods.org)
1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products (Plan International UK)
Over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty
68% said they felt less able to pay attention in class at school or college while menstruating
Menstrual products cost more than £18,000 in a women’s life (£13 every month)
40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they couldn’t afford menstrual products
A survey of more than 1000 girls found nearly half were embarrassed by their period and many were afraid to ask for help because of the stigma
What can be done?
A number of charities, organisations and educational settings have launched campaigns to provide free sanitary products into schools. In addition, the government announced in March 2019 their pledge to invest £2million in international aid to fund projects around the world.
There are a number of campaigns currently tackling period poverty including:
Girl Guiding – girlguiding.org.uk
Bloody Good Period – bloodygoodperiod.com
Action Aid – actionaid.org.uk
The ‘Proud, Period!’ campaign – Felixstowe Academy
The Pride and Periods scheme – Suffolk Libraries
Always – always.co.uk
The Red Box Project – redboxproject.org
For more information on local campaigns near you, contact us at Student Life!