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Break the Barriers: our Menstrual Manifesto

A photo of Sugi, from the UK.

Break the Barriers

Our first-of-a-kind report documents girls’ experiences of periods in the UK

The UK is one of the richest countries in the world. But our latest report, Break the Barriers: Girls’ Experiences of Menstruation in the UK, reveals a culture of stigma and silence have turned periods into a hidden public health issue – putting girls' physical, sexual and mental health at risk.

Every month, girls in the UK face period poverty: two fifths (40%) have had to use toilet roll because they can’t afford proper sanitary products. Meanwhile, a lack of knowledge means one in seven girls (14%) didn’t know what was happening when they started their period, while more than a quarter (26%) didn’t know what to do.

Across the UK and around the world, girls’ stories show that periods have been stigmatised for too long. That’s why we’re demanding action through our Menstrual Manifesto, to end the challenges girls face and break down the taboos that continue to make them feel ashamed of their bodies when they have their period.

An icon of a pair of pants with blood drops on them

48% of girls in the UK feel embarrassed by their period

An icon of a sanitary pad

27% of girls in the UK have overused a sanitary product because they couldn’t afford a fresh one

An icon of a page of a calendar with blood drops on it

49% of girls in the UK have missed an entire day of school because of their period


Girls’ experiences of periods in the UK

Clodagh, 14, from the UK

Our menstrual manifesto

“In my primary school or secondary school they didn’t give us one lesson on periods.” – Clodagh, 14, Nottingham

From ensuring  school pupils in the UK learn about periods to taking action to end period poverty – we've taken the findings from our Break the Barriers report to create a Menstrual Manifesto: six things we all need to make happen, to transform girls' experiences of their periods.

Molly, 14, from the UK

Listening to girls and other menstruators

"I think feminine hygiene products should be free because if men had periods, I’m pretty sure things to look after your period would be free." – Molly, 14, Manchester

Our Menstrual Manifesto puts the voices of girls and other menstruators first. It seeks a commitment to asking what they want to learn about periods and listening to their replies – because they are the experts in their own lives.

Portrait of Aoife, from the UK

Locked out

Almost 70% of girls aren’t allowed to go to the toilet during school lesson times – and it's contributing to the shame and stigma they're already made to feel when they have their periods. 

With young people’s wellbeing, their education and their success at school at stake, we want to work with teachers to make sure we end period taboos and improve young people’s experiences of having their period, including at school.

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