Over 137,700 girls in the UK have missed school because of period poverty: as chancellor Phillip Hammond is expected to announce free sanitary products for secondary schools in the Spring budget, TRC collects for those in need right now
A staggering 1 in 10 girls and women aged between 14 to 21 are unable to afford sanitary wear, with many reporting having to improvise using toilet paper, socks or other means while menstruating, research by Plan International UK has found.
The impact on women and girls is significant, with over 137,000 girls in the UK reported to have missed school due to the issue.
In recent months, the #PeriodPoverty campaign has seen a range of large organizations join the campaign to address a lack of access to proper sanitary wear. Most recently, Manchester City Football Club joined the ‘On the ball’ initiative and committed to provide free products campus-wide.
Earlier this month, the NHS England also announced they would offer free tampons and sanitary products to women and girls in hospitals – a practice many were shocked to discover wasn’t already common practice, when a BMA campaign in February pointed out that many hospitals supply razors and shaving foam for men, but no sanitary products.
Scotland is already leading the way, having extended their existing scheme of free sanitary provision to cover more public places including libraries and leisure centres, after originally offering supplies in schools, colleges and universities from last August.
As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, Trafford Rape Crisis joined forces with the social work team of Trafford Council to collect sanitary products for Red Box Project Trafford, which will distribute to local schools and families in need in the Trafford area. Over £150 worth of tampons and pads were collected by the team as part of the #PeriodPoverty campaign.
The products were on offer to women and girls attending the International Women’s Day event at Limelight, the community health and well-being hub in Old Trafford.
Products not given out on the day will be distributed as ‘red boxes’ in local schools, with some also going to the local asylum seekers’ charity, where funding restrictions mean women can currently only access a single pack of pads per month.
The day after International Women’s Day, reports were released with claims Phillip Hammond is to announce a commitment to ending period poverty in English secondary schools in the Spring statement, this Wednesday.
Mirroring the Scotland scheme, the Chancellor is expected to allocate funding to provide free sanitary protection, without restriction of availability, funded in full by the Treasury.
“We welcome the news of this anticipated statement, though it remains a source of immense frustration that in this day and age, women and girls are continuing to struggle to access fundamental and basic sanitary protection,” says Becki, Trafford Rape Crisis.
“”Sanitary products aren’t a luxury item. They’re a necessity. But when you consider that over a woman’s lifetime that’s an estimated £18,000 cost, or an average of £13 a month, it’s perhaps no surprise that many will struggle to afford products each month.
“This initiative will help ensure young girls aren’t forced to sacrifice their access to education just because they are going through a natural biological process of bleeding each month. However, these girls are just a fraction of those affected by period poverty. Women throughout the UK are continuing to struggle.
“When faced with decisions such as whether to top up the electricity meter, to buy dinner or to ensure children can join their peers on a school trip, or to buy sanitary products, many women are being forced to make a sacrifice. This must end, now.”