“Period poverty” — a term used to describe the lack of affordability of feminine hygiene products — has leapt onto the political agenda in the UK in the last twelve months and is bringing together some unlikely partners to tackle the problem, from businesses and trade unions to soccer teams and community groups.
It is estimated that one in ten women in the UK struggle to afford period products — leading to what’s been called “period poverty” by campaigners.
Scottish soccer club Hibernian has become the latest professional club to help tackle period poverty for fans and its community.
The club has partnered with Hey Girls, a social enterprise company set up to tackle period poverty, to provide free products for fans at its 21,000 seat stadium in Easter Road. Female fans will be able to access free Hey Girls products in the toilets at the stadium.
Hey Girls operates a Buy One Give One model, which means that for every box of products sold, a box is donated to someone in need via a network of donation partners including schools, colleges, food banks, women’s shelters and community centres.
Hibs’ partnership with Hey Girls means that for every box purchased by the club, a donation is matched into the local community to tackle period poverty. In this instance, matched donations will go to Canongate Youth, who support young people in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, left wing trade union Unite has praised Rolls-Royce for ‘leading the way’ in the fight against period poverty after the engineering giant gave its backing to the union’s period dignity campaign and agreed to provide sanitary products at no cost in toilets across its operations in 50 countries around the globe.
Rolls-Royce, which has its headquarters in the UK, is the first multi-national company to make a global commitment. It comes after bosses at the Rolls-Royce plant in Washington, Tyne and Wear signed up locally to the campaign and then supported Unite representatives in raising the initiative with senior management.
Unite is urging other employers to follow Rolls-Royce’s lead to ensure that women and girls have period dignity. By making changes in our workplaces, places of education and in society, Unite believes women and girls will be able to have a positive period knowing that they are able to access sanitary products.
For young girls, the problems associated with period poverty are even more serious, but one Midlands city is taking action, reaching 11,000 people in its first month.
Launched in September 2018, Project GIVE aims to tackle period poverty and support disadvantaged young women in Wolverhampton to stay in education throughout the month.
A report by Plan International in 2017 found that almost half (49%) of girls in the UK had missed a day of school due to having their period and one in ten said they had been unable to afford sanitary wear.
Project GIVE is distributing boxes of donated sanitary products to schools within Wolverhampton in an attempt to end period poverty in the city.