Young women are being forced to miss out on education because they don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products - and it’s something that needs to change now.
To tackle the issue, Bodyform has pledged to donate 200,000 free products to women and girls who are unable to access or purchase products for themselves or their families by 2020.
The move comes after charity Freedom4Girls said it had started handing out sanitary products in Leeds, as girls were missing school because they couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products.
One girl told BBC Radio Leeds that she had to wrap a sock around her underwear to stop the bleeding.
“I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home,” she said. “I once sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn’t know what else to do.”
To help tackle the heartbreaking issue, education secretary Justine Greening said she was looking into providing sanitary products for girls who qualify for free school meals.
Bodyform has also announced a three-year pledge to donate 200,000 free packs of Ultra Normal Wings Towels via HRH Prince of Wales’s charity In Kind Direct by 2020.
The products will be distributed to various charities who support women and girls affected by issues such as homelessness, poverty, disability, illness and domestic violence.
The founders of The Homeless Period, a movement which raises awareness of the issues faced by homeless women when it comes to menstruation, said: “The new pledge could make a huge difference to homeless women in the UK. It means fewer women will have to go without sanitary products during that dreaded time of the month.
“Knowing that they can rely on a local shelter to provide these essential products means they will have just one less thing to worry about in an already difficult situation.”
The Amber Foundation based in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, helps give homeless, unemployed young people a “fresh start”. It is one of many charities that will receive the free sanitary products.
“Many of the young women we work with come from very tough backgrounds and being able to provide them with feminine hygiene products means that this is one less thing for them to worry about,” said centre manager Barbara Bewley.
“Amber’s centres are a young person’s home and so having access to all the home comforts that we take for granted is essential in terms of helping them to focus on achieving their goals and aspirations.”
Pulling Together Asian Women’s Group in Manchester will also be on the receiving end of Bodyform’s donation. The charity helps Asian women and girls address key issues such as identity, healthy lifestyle choices and marriage.
Spokesperson Robina Sheikh said of the move: “The women and girls that come here have aspirations and we try to give them good role models. It’s fantastic to be able to provide them with toiletries and things for their home that they might struggle to afford.
“We make up bags of items from In Kind Direct which include things like washing up liquid, sanitary products, detergent, shower gel, cleansing lotion and other toiletries.
“For most of a woman’s life she is going to need sanitary products, so by donating these to women with little or no money, it offers them a chance not to have think about the monthly expense for these products and maybe use the savings on their family or themselves.”
Marketing director for Bodyform, Nicola Coronado, urged other manufacturers to step up to the plate and look at how they can further support the cause.
She added: “Alongside campaigns such as The Homeless Period, we can overcome the taboo of talking about menstruation while ensuring sanitary products are reaching those most in need.”