Young People In The U.K. Are Helping End Stigma Around Period Poverty
A group of young people in the U.K. are working to help teens access menstrual hygiene resources and information
For people who menstruate all over the world, period poverty — a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products as well as health care and education for and about menstruation — is a very real problem, leading so many to feel unprepared and ashamed about their bodies and their menstrual cycles.
One group of young people in the U.K. is hoping to help chip away at some of those stigmas while also providing resources and information to teenagers, allowing them to “be period proud.”
Youth Leads U.K., a volunteer-based organization of people between the ages of 14 and 24, just launched a questionnaire for teens ages 12 through 19, giving them “the chance to tell decision-makers what a world where everyone can Be Period Proud looks like.” The initiative aims “to highlight the impact of period poverty on education and mental health and provide practical actions to decision-makers.”
Last year, the U.K. government announced they’d be providing free period products to all high schools and universities, but in the months since the program was announced, Youth Leads U.K. notes that only 40 percent of schools have taken them up on it, still leaving plenty of people without the tampons and pads they need to have safe, healthy, and dignified menstrual cycles. The organization hopes to close the gap by finding out exactly what their needs are and giving those in need an outlet to discuss their menstrual concerns.
Along with access to the survey (and the chance to win £50, or around $70 USD), the volunteers are providing free self-care packages to those in need. Each pack will include disposable sanitary napkins, tampons, and other self-care items including shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant, all of which are often cost-prohibitive or difficult to access for those without reliable transportation.
In a statement announcing the program, Youth Leads U.K. CEO Saeed Atcha MBE DL said, “We don’t want a world where young people who experience periods have to worry about affording them. It’s fantastic that the government now provides free products, but the take-up isn’t there, and we need to encourage it. We’re also hearing that young people are understandably not comfortable in asking for the products. Our volunteers want to find out why to recommend improvements in the long-term and provide self-care packs to help in the short term. This is wonderful social action.”
Period poverty is also a huge problem in the U.S., and if you’re looking for more ways to help provide access for those in need stateside, Period Proud is an organization that aims to normalize and equalize menstruation — specifically for BIPOC communities that need access to menstrual products, regardless of gender identity or socioeconomic mobility, as the organization’s website states. Supporting their mission is a great place to start — a $21 donation ensures someone has access to a month’s worth of period supplies.