The UK government will provide free sanitary products in English secondary schools and colleges.
The English government has promised tangible action on Period Poverty by this September, after fantastic campaigning by schoolgirls, activists and MPs, supported by research and reports from school heads that they are seeing girls miss school days because they are unable to access adequate period care.
A 2017 survey of 1,000 English girls and women aged 14 to 21 by charity Plan International revealed that:
- one in 10 had been unable to afford sanitary products
- 12% had improvised protection because of the prohibitive cost of period products
- 49% had missed school due to their period. Another survey found 51 per cent of respondents had suffered from the problem, or knew someone who had. More than two-thirds had been forced to use makeshift menstrual protection at some point.
The scheme to make free sanitary products available in secondary schools and Universities follows a pledge by the NHS to make tampons and sanitary pads available to patients after pressure from Doctors.
“This is a victory for all those who have campaigned for an end to period poverty. It’s a disgrace that period poverty exists in the sixth richest country in the world.”
- Dawn Butler, shadow minister for women and equalities
“Empowerment starts when you are young. Girls should be able to focus on their education and their future without being worried about or embarrassed by their periods.”
- Penny Mordaunt, UK Minister for Women and Equalities
Wales to provide free sanitary products in schools to fight period poverty
In Wales, up to 141,000 girls attending both primary and secondary schools will be able to access free menstrual products as part of a new £2.3m government scheme designed to combat period poverty.
As in New Zealand, schoolgirls are forced to miss school days because they cannot afford period products. In a Welsh survey last year, two in five girls reported that they had to use toilet paper to manage their period, with some using socks or newspaper to cope with their periods.