Opinion: Period Poverty Must End
By ANISAH ARIF
“That time of the Month” is every woman’s saying when having to explain to your colleagues not to annoy her for the next week. What feels like a knife in your stomach, is the menstruation cycle that comes every month for a woman going through her period.
However, what comes with the pain and the oversized panty wear, is the responsibility to wear comfortable sanitary products suited to your cycle.
Imagine not being able to afford the simple sanitary products or being prevented from accessing them? This is a real growing issue among the younger community within girls or low-income families who do not have the funds to get these products which have a significant impact on their wellbeing.
It’s always been an embarrassing moment to ask your teacher or the nurse for a product or to conceal the fact that we have periods at all, hiding pads and tampons in our bag.
Some girls resort to re-using the same product they could not afford to buy new supplies. Now a new scheme, which calls for sanitary products to be free, has gained worldwide recognition.
The scheme has recently received success in neighbouring city Leeds, where the topic is to be discussed by senior councillors next week.
A pilot study for the scheme is under way in one of the city’s schools.
There are 34 libraries, 43 secondary schools and 225 primary schools in Leeds.
The council hopes to work with partners to provide them with free sanitary products, alongside its network of community hubs and one-stop centre’s.
It aims to produce “sustainable, long-term solutions for tackling period poverty informed by young women”.
There are no agreed figures for the extent of period poverty in Leeds, according to the report to the council’s Executive Board.
It does not contain any estimates of the cost of the scheme.
- The average cost of a period is about £10 a month
- About one in seven girls have struggled to afford sanitary wear
- More than one in ten girls have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues
- Just under one in five of girls have changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost issues
Sources: Bloody Good Poverty and Plan International – quoted by Leeds City Council
Councillor Jonathan Pryor said: “Period poverty is a circumstance that no-one should have to experience.
“It is so important that we create this city-wide conversation around period poverty so that people feel comfortable discussing their needs and experiences.”
The Executive Board meeting is due to be held on 19 December.
Since the beginning of this campaign, women from all over the UK are campaigning for local schools and councils to take part in this project.
The Yorkshire Building Society has a number of branches who are currently collecting donations to support this project in local communities. The Batley branch has took part in this motive in ensuring free products are accessible to pupils in primary and secondary schools.
As poverty is increasing within the Yorkshire region, this initiative is something we believe should be placed in every school. The tampon tax is just another motive to gain money from the elite.
The Council needs to meet the demands of young women, and hear their pleas of help. As a community, we need to move past the mindset that periods are ‘dirty’ and a ‘taboo’ subject.
Without the support of the elite, the education system will fail to provide a safe and nurturing environment for future students, which they so rightly deserve.
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