Monday, January 18News For London

Period poverty: A petition shows people’s desire to have free menstrual products

Period poverty is a human rights issue that cannot be ignored. In the UK, there is an ongoing petition, with a lot of people wanting the government to provide free period products across the UK.

photo by Jing Yang

According to the research by the grassroots group Women for Independence (WFI), nearly one in five women had experienced period poverty, which has a significant impact on their hygiene, health and wellbeing.

Period poverty is when those on low incomes can’t afford, or access, suitable period products.

Women are estimated to spend an average of £13 a month on period products and several thousand pounds over a lifetime.

Mina Heaney, 28, who costs £6 a month for tampons and pads, said : “I might be able to afford it, but plenty of other women in the country, they can’t. They have to find other ways to use in their periods.”

Mina Heaney is buying period products in Sainsbury’s  Photo by Jing Yang

The most common alternative used was toilet roll, with others citing rags, old clothes, T-shirts, socks and newspapers

Amika George, 20, who launched the Free Periods campaign in 2017, said to the Independent: “Some girls who had resorted to using rags and sleeves of old T-shirts for their periods due to not being able to afford proper menstrual products.”

According to WFI, 11% of more than 1,000 women who are in the research describes a significant health impact because of period poverty, such as a urinary tract infection or thrush.

Bloody Good Period (BGP) is a growing charity, with a vision to achieve menstrual equity – where the simple fact of bleeding doesn’t stop anyone from participating fully in society, or life. 

Period poverty has increased sharply in the UK since the coronavirus crisis began. BGP has seen a huge increase in demand in the last six months, donating nearly 60,000 pack of pads since March alone.

Tampons, sanitary pads and other period products has been made freely available to all state schools and colleges in England starting since January 20, 2020, with the launch of a scheme funded by the Department for Education.

Until then, there was a lack of free sanitary products available in schools and educational institutions. “I haven’t heard or experienced free period products in my high school,” Taja Anita, who is a fresher from University of Westminster. 

Besides, there are currently no free period products available in the toilets of London’s supermarkets and shopping malls.

Although very few toilets offer them, they are sold for around one pound each pack.

Siobhán Falloon, a Londoner aged 38, who spends £5 on sanitary pads, said: “ I have to bring menstrual products in my bag when I go out.”

“That is the reality for far too many people, and it is not one that should be being solved by small charities and the goodwill of donors,” said Gabby Edlin, founder of BGP.

MSPs approved The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act on November 24, 2020, which means Scotland becomes the first nation to provide free period products for all.

BGP calls on the UK government to follow Scotland’s bloody good example.

Gabby Edlin started a petition about “everyone deserves a bloody good period” to Liz Truss MP (Minister for Women and Equalities) on 26 November, 2020, which has 26,711 signatures so far.

The link to sign the BGP petition: https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-provide-free-period-products-across-the-uk