The hidden reason 137,000 children have missed school days.


Ffion McCarthy


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Periods are not the first thought when we think about poverty, especially with the cost-of-living crisis. Our first thoughts go towards heating, gas electricity and food. However period poverty has been a problem in Britain for years.Even though we often see ourselves as a forward thinking, even a “woke” country, the taboo surrounding period poverty is the reason so many girls and women are suffering 

 Period poverty according to the royal college of nursing is: “the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints” It is estimated that currently over 137,000 children across the UK have missed school days due to period poverty. This is affecting their learning and the ability to get them out of the poverty they are currently facing. The silence around this issue and of periods in general can make girls and young women too afraid to talk about it.  

 As a nation, we’ve made progress. The first of January 2021 saw the tampon tax end. This means we no longer pay extra for products. However the fact that’s it’s taken until 2021 to realise that period products aren’t a luxury, but an essential item is appalling to me. This end of the tampon tax doesn’t mean that tampons and sanitary pads have become affordable for everyone, England is in a recession meaning the prices of these products are rising due to inflation. Metro and Channel Four did research into the monthly cost of period products in 2018/2019 and found on average it was a little over ten pounds a month. This price is sure to go up with the cost-of-living crisis. Some women will simply not be able to afford it 

 Xaverian is a part of the solution, and so are many other schools. In every woman’s bathroom on campus, you can find a box of sanitary products that you can take as needed. These boxes are often re-stocked and are extremely helpful for everyone, especially those girls who cannot afford to buy products at home. Many other schools are talking part in this, and the government has started a period product scheme for any state school or colleges to provides products for those that need them. This scheme is available until 2024 and is a step in the right direction to help girls.  

 I firmly believe that products should also be in public bathrooms. Period poverty doesn’t just affect teenagers. This could help any women that needs it, particularly homeless women who suffer the most. Some food banks offer period products, Stretford food bank: “specifically ask when phoning clients” and have said that they have enough donations at this moment in time. Donating period products to food banks is a way you can help tackle this problem. 

 One of the most important things we can do for the next generation is to educate them. Not just women but men too. Teach them not just the science behind it but the way it can affect our day to day lives. Breaking the stigma of periods will help those that need it feel less ashamed about talking about it. End period poverty.