As the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect households across Yorkshire, the government and charities across the region are working to combat the increasing issue of Period Poverty.
New statistics published by End Child Poverty have shown that there are one in three children in the region who are living in poverty, and therefore may be affected by Period Poverty, as they do not have the necessary means to afford basic menstrual protection.
Period Poverty affects women, girls and people who menstruate all over the world. Due to financial constraints in the current economic climate, education is being missed as women and girls around the world do not have the means to safely menstruate when away from their homes.
According to survey by global children’s charity Plan International UK, 64% of girls and women aged 14-21 in the UK have missed a part day or full day of school because of their period, with 13% of girls missing an entire school day at least once a month.
In 2017 period poverty hit the headlines when a teacher in Leeds contacted a local charity, after she became concerned that girls were missing school because they couldn’t afford period products.
As the issue of Period Poverty impacts those based across Yorkshire, Leeds-based charity, Freedom 4 Girls are working hard to provide those who are in need with access to free menstruation productions and education around how to use them safely.
Founder of Freedom 4 Girls, Tina Leslie said: ‘’I think what happens is, this issue gains traction because people actually say – I can’t afford period products, I can’t go to school, I’m really struggling.
‘’If you have to make a choice between your food or buying period products it affects your whole life. It affects your self-esteem, it affects your mental health.
‘’People who have periods are going to suffer if they’re already in financial constraints. I think we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.’’
As a result of the increasing epidemic of Period Poverty, the government introduced a scheme in 2020, which is available to all state-maintained schools and aged 16 to 19 education organisations in England.
Girls, women, and learners who identify as non-binary or transgender, are provided with free sanitary products when needed in order to access education services safely and comfortably.
New data, published in January 2022 shows in total, 13,822 individual organisations have ordered free sanitary products since the scheme first began, including 94% of secondary schools and 90% of post 16 organisations.
Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince said: ‘’I am pleased to see our free period products in such high demand in schools and colleges across the country, making sure there is no reason for any student to miss lessons or worry about coming on their period.
‘’I encourage every school and college to check their stocks and continue to order products before the end of the academic year. It is the quickest and simplest way of making sure they are available to everyone who needs them.’’
Furthermore, the value of products being ordered increased by almost a quarter in 2021 to £3.4 million compared with £2.8 million in 2020.
The scheme is available until 2024.