The UK government provides free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges.
The English government taken tangible action on Period Poverty after fantastic campaigning by schoolgirls, activists and MPs, supported by research and reports from school heads that they are seeing girls miss school days because they are unable to access adequate period care.
A 2017 survey of 1,000 English girls and women aged 14 to 21 by charity Plan International revealed that:
- one in 10 had been unable to afford sanitary products
- 12% had improvised protection because of the prohibitive cost of period products
- 49% had missed school due to their period. Another survey found 51 per cent of respondents had suffered from the problem, or knew someone who had. More than two-thirds had been forced to use makeshift menstrual protection at some point.
The scheme to make free sanitary products available in secondary schools and Universities followed a pledge by the NHS to make tampons and sanitary pads available to patients after pressure from Doctors.
Wales provides free sanitary products in schools to fight period poverty
In Wales, up to 141,000 girls attending both primary and secondary schools can access free menstrual products as part of a £3.3m government scheme designed to combat period poverty.
As in New Zealand, schoolgirls are forced to miss school days because they cannot afford period products. In a Welsh survey last year, two in five girls reported that they had to use toilet paper to manage their period, with some using socks or newspaper to cope with their periods.
Scotland the Brave - First to provide free period products in schools
In 2017, 1 in 4 (26%) survey respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access sanitary products.
One respondent summed up the issue of period poverty eloquently:
“It’s great to be a girl. But sometimes things that come with being a girl can make life difficult. It’s no secret that many people in Scotland find it difficult to afford or access sanitary products. This can lead to girls missing school and so losing out on vital education. This effects a girl’s learning and therefore how well she does in school. It can lead to major issues in adulthood such as unemployment and health issues. More awareness needs to be spread around this issue as it is extremely important and has a huge impact on our society and our country.”
Scotland provides free period care in schools to fight period poverty
In August 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities, with a revolutionary £5.2M programme. The government also launched a £500,000 scheme to help women from low income households to access free sanitary products in their communities.
New Scottish bill aims to provide free period products for all
Scotland is now a big step closer to becoming the first country in the world to provide tampons and pads free - to anyone who needs them.
Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed the first of three stages in the Scottish Parliament with a vote of 112-0, one abstention. Its champion is Monica Lennon, a Scottish Parliament member who has campaigned for years to build support for the measure, and first proposed the bill in 2017.
British Columbia axes 'tampon tax' - provides free sanitary care for school children
“In Canada, one in seven students has missed school due to their periods because they can’t afford or don’t have easy access to menstrual products.” - Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean, BC parliamentary secretary for gender equity.
The BC government ditched taxes on tampons and other sanitary products in 2015, and on 5 April ordered public schools across British Columbia to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of this year.
What's the real 'cost-benefit' equation of axing tampon taxes?
Removing the 'tampon tax' cost the BC government an estimated $36 million in lost revenue, but there will be inter-generational social and economic profits resulting from making it more affordable and realistic for lower income women to be in work, and girls to get a higher education that will lift them, and their future families out of poverty long term.
Free menstrual products in BC Schools is an educational game-changer!
The government will provide $300,000 in start-up money so that districts can immediately provide the products in school washrooms.
“Students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they cant afford or don't have access to menstrual products. This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue. We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need - with no stigma, and no barriers.” - Rob Fleming, Education Minister.
Tautoko Rob; we couldn't agree more.
Grassroots funding & research into menstrual products
Applause also for the government allocating funding (CAD$95,000) to support the United Way Period Promise Research Project, to fund menstrual products for up to 10 non-profit agencies, and fund research into how best to provide menstrual services and products.
Supporting grass-roots charities and collating research helps build a sustainable, informed way forward, out of period poverty.
So much of this is due to campaigning by schoolgirls themselves!
All right New Zealand; let's see what we can do!