Spring Statement: Period poverty scheme a “major breakthrough” but education is critical
The UK Government has today announced a scheme to provide free period products to English secondary schools.
Responding, Lucy Russell, Head of Girls’ Rights and Youth at Plan International UK, said:
“Today’s announcement is a major breakthrough for girls affected by period poverty across the UK. The campaign for change has been led by girls’ voices and it’s encouraging to see the government recognising their needs in UK policy.
“It’s simply unacceptable that in 21st century Britain, women and girls are suffering because they don’t have enough money to manage their period. Our research shows that 40 per cent of girls have been forced to rely on toilet roll at some point because they’ve struggled to afford period products.
“We are at a tipping point in the campaign for change and it’s critical that we don’t stop here. It isn’t enough just to provide free period products to schools. If we’re to put an end to period poverty then we also need to tackle the ‘toxic trio’ of issues at the root of the problem – namely high-cost period products, lack of education and the stigma and shame surrounding periods.
“Free products won’t solve things if girls are too embarrassed to talk about their periods or don’t understand how their bodies work. We urgently need education and training for girls, schools and parents to help tackle the stigma around periods. The Government’s new relationship and sex education curriculum offers a rare opportunity to do just that, but we need to make sure that classes genuinely reflect girls’ needs and experiences.”