Provide free sanitary products in UK schools! #PeriodPotential

When I was 12 and on my period, I was forced to borrow sanitary products from my school friends or use tissue, as I felt too guilty to ask my mum for money. I knew we didn't have much money, and I also knew how expensive they were. 

This carried on through college. I would go to reception and tell them I was unable to attend the rest of my classes as I had started my period. They said that I could buy sanitary products in the bathrooms, but my maintenance allowance (EMA) was spent on ensuring I was able to eat. When I became really desperate I would save my lunch money to buy them instead of eating.

Stories like mine are becoming more common, and it’s even worse now that EMA no longer exists. Children in the UK are missing school because they are unable to afford sanitary products, with some being absent for a week every month.[1] This has enormous effect on their education and future job prospects.

A bill is about to go through the Scottish Parliament to make it a requirement for Scottish schools to provide free pads and tampons.[2]

We call on the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to make sure sanitary products are free in schools across the UK schools.

Teachers are even taking the issue into their own hands and paying for students’ sanitary products out of their own pocket - but because of the stigma surrounding periods, many students will feel unable to ask for help.

This taboo needs to end with proper education, but first, free sanitary items need to be provided, so that no one has to miss school because of their period. That's why the National Union of Teachers are backing this campaign.

Tampons and pads are necessities, not luxuries, so just as toilet paper is provided in schools for free, so should sanitary items. This is something that has already been recognised in New York, where free tampons are available in schools.[3]

I am part of the Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists, who are leading this campaign. Please sign and join us to ensure all children achieve their #PeriodPotential

Follow the Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists on Twitter and Facebook - we'd love to hear from you. To contact us, and for our press release, please email: fourthwavelfa@gmail.com

[1] Girls 'too poor' to buy sanitary protection missing school - www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39266056

[2] Holyrood Member's Bill aims to tackle period poverty - www.heraldscotland.com/politics/15157921.Holyrood_Member_s_Bill_aims_to_tackle__period_poverty_/

[3] 'Menstrual equity': Free tampons for New York City schools and jails - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36597949

News coverage on the issue: 

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39266056  

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/girls-skipping-school-periods-cant-afford-tampons-sanitary-pads-a7629766.html 

www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/british-schoolgirls-skip-school-every-month-because-they-cant-afford-tampons-a3490201.html

www.tes.com/news/school-news/ breaking-news/greening-look- free-sanitary-products- poorest-pupils 

www.theguardian.com/society/ 2017/mar/17/girls-from-poorer- families-in-england-struggle- to-afford-sanitary-protection

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