Free tampons and other sanitary products will be available in all secondary schools in England and for NHS patients.
Illustrations with thanks to Alice Skinner and Free Periods
Period poverty is a permeating issue. One in ten girls can’t afford menstrual products and over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school due to bleeding. If a girl stays at home every time she is on her period, she will be put 145 days behind other peers. Now, finally, a future without period poverty might be on the horizon.
On Saturday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced that free sanitary products will be available in all English secondary schools. Hammond will pledge the new funding in today’s spring statement, and the scheme is expected to be in full force from September.
“It’s a disgrace that period poverty exists in the sixth richest country in the world,” Dawn Butler, shadow minister for women and equalities, stated.
Teen activist and brains behind #FreePeriods, Amika George, founded her campaign in April 2017 to eradicate period poverty in the UK and globally, as well as end the shame and stigma that is still attached to periods. In December 2017, George organised a protest which gathered around 2,000 people in front of Downing Street to call on the government’s ignorance and failure to end period poverty.
“I certainly didn’t set out to be an activist. I saw there was real injustice in period poverty and I found it disgraceful that the Government was refusing to take action,” George told BRICKS in April last year.
After two years of campaigning, George’s hard work is finally starting to pay off. However, she wants to see period poverty end altogether. In partnership with Red Box Project and Pink Protest, George launched a crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of this year to set up a legal case and hold the government accountable for its silence and lacking action in making periods free.
”Equal access to education is a fundamental human right and no one should miss school because they cannot afford pads and tampons,” George writes on her crowdfunding page.
The campaign demands free sanitary products for every schoolchild, to ensure that no more girls will miss out on their education because of the most natural function that is bleeding.