Two years ago, I had never heard the term “Period Poverty” but today it is something I am very passionate about and really want to help raise awareness for.
The term simply refers to the situation where people can’t or struggle to be able to afford feminine hygiene necessities, such as sanitary towels and tampons and even clean knickers.
According to a debate today (28/6/18) MPs claimed that a period costs the average woman an astounding £500 a year (in both products & time missed from work).
Shockingly, period poverty effects school girls up and down the country. With an astounding 10% of girls aged 14-21 having to use make shift products such as socks or toilet tissue as they simply can not afford sanitary products. Girls are missing days at school and losing out on their valuable education, because heartbreakingly their parents can’t afford sanitary products for them.
I conducted my own period poverty survey on my Instagram account and around 400 people took part. The aim was to find out how much the “average person” knew about period poverty. The two results that shocked me the most were to the questions “Did you know 10% of school girls in the UK have regularly struggled to afford sanitary products?” to which 79% answered “No, I had no idea”. The other question that I found quite eye opening was “Have you or anyone you are close to, ever struggled to afford sanitary products?” 31% of people answered “Yes”. That is approximately 124 out of 400 people. That really surprised me.
How can you help? Luckily there are charities in place to help, so do google and see what you can do locally, whether you can donate, money, time or simply share this post and others like it on social media to raise awareness, it’s all a step in the right direction.
One charity that stood out for me is The Red Box Project. This organisation have the lovely mantra of “Community kindness, women to young women. Their education matters and so does their dignity.”
I talked to Anna at RBP and she explained to me “Women from the community sponsor and stock a red box in a local school, filling it with sanitary products and spare pants. The box provides sanitary products for disadvantaged young women throughout their entire period. Whole packets, not just one or two. Paper bags are included for discretion. Pants are tucked in, just in case. Posters in the girls’ toilet signpost the box, which is kept by an appropriate member of staff. At Red Box HQ we manage the overall project, provide artwork, advice, support and guidance. Each coordinator is responsible for her own area or school and is pretty much autonomous. It’s a kind of charity franchise set up.”
There are now over 100 schools running the Red Box system in the UK, all made possible by their wonderful volunteers and kind donors.
Unfortunately setting up a Redbox of my own is not something I can currently undertake as we are moving house soon. However it is something I would be very keen to do in the future.
Have you got time or resources to spare? Could you set up your own Red Box at your local school? Below you will find all the details to contact them if you think you could help in any way.
Statistics from a survey conducted by Plan-UK.