How is period poverty an issue that affects girls in the UK? I seriously couldn’t believe it when I heard the statistics. Being a teenager is stressful enough without the added worry of not having the sanitary products you need.
New research shows almost 138,000 girls in the UK have missed school in the last year because they couldn’t afford sanitary products. When I heard this I was gobsmacked. As a woman and a mum, this does not sit well with me. That’s why today, on International Women’s Day, I am launching a campaign with Always to help #EndPeriodPoverty.
The issue is nationwide and although there is lots of brilliant work by multiple organisations, campaigners and charities, there are still so many young girls affected. In this day and age, how can this be? Us adults, need to work together to make sure our girls don’t suffer. Their school’s days should be filled with laughter and learning, not worrying about how they are going to manage their next period.
And it’s not just the girls that are affected. One in five parents has gone without something themselves and one in 20 admitted to stealing in order to provide their daughters with the sanitary products she needs. And despite their best efforts, one in 10 have been forced to send their daughter to school without pads or tampons, knowing she needed them. I can only imagine how heartbreaking this must feel for parents, when you have done everything in your power to provide but it still isn’t enough.
And teachers are all too familiar with the issue as well. Over half of those surveyed were aware of girls who couldn’t afford sanitary protection and almost all of them said it was a common problem. Perhaps most worrying is that a third of teachers agree that girls affected by period poverty tend to perform below average in class.
Oprah, the shiny light and friendly voice in my head, once said that “you cannot heal something that is not spoken about”, and this is so true of period poverty. With this project I want to let girls know that there is no shame in talking about periods or asking for help.
It will take two minutes of your time to get involved and support the girls affected. Simply share a throwback picture of yourself on social media using #EndPeriodPoverty and tagging Always, and the brand will donate a pad to a school girl in need. Because no matter how long ago it was, we were all school children once, and even if you haven’t experienced period poverty yourself, you can put yourself into the shoes of young school girls who are affected. These pads will go to the schools in most need so when girls do speak up and ask for help, teachers can provide.
And this is just the beginning. We want period poverty to be a thing of the past. Period.