After much lobbying and campaigning, the UK Government has finally launched their Free School Sanitary Product Scheme across schools in the UK and Universities in Scotland.
Period poverty is a serious yet underpublicized problem across the world for those who are unable to afford the necessary sanitary products required monthly for dealing with periods.
Whilst this poverty is even more prevalent in lesser-developed countries, it is perhaps surprising for many to discover that 10 per cent of women in the UK have experienced period poverty too, according to a study in 2017 carried out by Plan International UK.
The new scheme will allow young menstruating pupils in both primary and secondary schools to access a wide variety of sanitary products including tampons, pads and menstrual cups as well as eco- friendly alternatives if they desire.
This is a huge step in the right direction for not only ending period poverty in the UK but for boosting the academic performance of those affected. For young students who experience period poverty, the consequences often mean missing entire days of school due to not having the appropriate sanitary products – disabling them from going about their day to day life. This evidently has a damaging and potentially long-lasting effect on their academic performance.
Michelle Donelan, Minister for families and children, said that the aim of the new scheme is to “deal with those problems so young people can go about their daily lives without getting caught out if they have come on their period unexpectedly, forgotten to bring products with them or if they can’t afford the products they need.”
Whilst for many people, a few pounds a month on sanitary products does not seem unaffordable, a recent study has shown that the average menstruator spends almost £500 a year on products relating to periods including sanitary products, new underwear, comfort foods and pain relief medication.
Whilst a pack of pads may only cost around £2, when all these additional needs are taken into account, the true price of having a period is far greater than it may initially seem.The government funded scheme is not only a positive step for menstruators in the UK but also for similar period poverty sufferers across the world.
There is hope that other countries will follow in the footsteps of the UK in recognising the seriousness of period poverty and helping those who will rely on this scheme most heavily. Furthermore, the opportunity to have free access to co-friendly alternative sanitary products is especially beneficial as it promotes the importance of living as sustainably and environmentally consciously as possible.
The scheme allows those in UK schools to sign up for free sanitary products and gain access to the products without the necessity of asking a teacher or fellow pupil for a product, a somewhat embarrassing task for any teenager.
This groundbreaking policy is the result of much lobbying and campaigning by charities and grassroot organisations such as Plan International UK, whose CEO said she is “thrilled to see the government take this hugely positive step towards ending period poverty”.
Let’s hope that the rest of the world follows suit and that period poverty will soon be a thing of the past.
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