Period poverty is a serious problem in the UK, but thanks to the stigma and taboo that still surrounds periods and women’s health in general, it is not one that is often talked about. Leeds University Union’s Community Project hope to tackle that this week with their campaign #TamponTakeover.
Many of our readers will understand the pains and problems your period can bring. From cramps and discomfort to making sure you have enough supplies when you leave the house to worrying if you’ve leaked through your clothes, it’s an experience that no one looks forward to.
However, some dread their period more than others. Statistics have shown that 1 in 10 women in the UK can’t afford sanitary products – not helped by the well-publicised tax added onto these ‘luxury’ items. For something that is such a basic necessity, it may surprise people to know that, on average, women spend over £18,000 on period products over their lifetime. Females in low-income households often resort to improvising with socks or toilet roll as they can’t afford the appropriate products.
It’s not just financial concerns that plague women on their period. 71% of girls admitted that they feel uncomfortable buying sanitary products, whilst 49% have missed a day at school because of their period. The lack of education and support available for women has long been an issue that has contributed to the stigma of periods, both here in the UK and worldwide.
Thankfully, things are starting to improve: new initiatives in England and Scotland have seen Labour MP Angela Raynor pledging to provide £10million to help relieve period poverty in schools in England, whilst the Scottish government trialled a free scheme in July 2017 in which women from 1000 low-income families were given free sanitary products.
It’s not just MPs and governments that can help to reduce period poverty. On a smaller scale, people can get involved on an individual basis through local organisations and charities. The latest opportunity to provide aid towards period poverty is through Leeds University Union. Leeds Community Project will be collecting donations for #TamponTakeover from 12th-15th February (11am-2pm) in LUU’s Union Square. Students can either donate sanitary products (i.e. pads and tampons) to the collection, or give as little as 20p and LCP will add a tampon to the collection for them. All collected sanitary products will be donated to local charities supporting those without fair access to sanitary care. The charities involved are Women’s Aid, who provide support to women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, and Freedom4Girls, set up by University of Leeds students to provide sanitary aid to women in Leeds.
Further information and details about the campaign will be available online via the hashtag #TamponTakeover.