16th April 2019 was a huge day for female school students across the UK. Thanks to the endless battle of the incredible 19 year old Amika George and her 'Free Periods' campaign, young girls in primary school, secondary school and colleges will receive FREE sanitary products in 2020!
The UK is a developed country, so we assume that people within the UK don't suffer from similar problems to those in underdeveloped countries. However, 'period poverty' has been a huge issue amongst young girls.
What is 'Period Poverty'?
Period poverty basically means that young girls and women can't afford sanitary products. A woman spends on average £13 a month on sanitary products, which is roughly £492 a year, and in a lifetime that's around £18,450.
Part of the ridiculously high expense of a very natural process is due to the 'pink tax'. Sanitary products are taxed 5% and are classified as a 'non-essential' 'luxury' item. Let me tell you one thing...there's nothing luxurious about periods.
Photo credit: Alice Skinner
How does Period Poverty affect young girls?
According to Plan International UK, 1 in 10 girls can't afford sanitary products. This means that 137,700 girls have missed school.
40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they cant afford sanitary products.
If a girl misses school every time she's on her period, she falls behind her male peers by 145 days.
In March 2019, the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond who's in charge of how the government spends the country's money, said that only secondary schools and colleges would receive free sanitary products.
With girls starting their period as young as 8 years old, the decision has now been rolled out to include primary schools as well.
I definitely wish my school had this when I was younger!
I remember when I was at school and I didn't have a sanitary towel on me. I'd run to the toilets to put a £1 coin in the sanitary products machine, which was always empty.
I would then have to ask the teacher if I could go to the nurse, I say ask but it was more of a whisper so none of the other girls would know I'm on my period. Thanks to the stigma around periods, whenever someone was on their period at school, they'd get teased.
I'd run to the nurse, hoping that no one else was in her room, so that I could embarrassingly ask for a sanitary towel.
Photo credit: Hazel Mead
Thank you SO SO much Amika George and everyone else involved in this change. This will have a huge impact on young girls in the UK and hopefully around the world eventually.
Next battle, abolish the pink tax on sanitary products!
[Founder of Rani & Co.]