In an effort to tackle ‘period poverty’, the Rhondda Cynon Taf council devised a plan for schools to give out free female sanitary products to girls aged nine and above. A six-month trial started this summer and has gained a lot of attention online. If it becomes a success (which, why wouldn’t it?) hopefully it will inspire other areas of Wales to follow suit. The issue of period poverty has gradually gained more and more attention over the last few years and finally, action is being taken. Some may argue that giving out free products is a waste of government money as there are plenty available in stores that are easily accessible. However, this is not always the case, especially for young girls. The purpose of this article is to discuss the reasons why Wales should be supported in this action and why schools should provide free female sanitary products to their pupils.
The products aren’t always cheap and can feel embarrassing to buy.
When adverts are portraying periods as blue liquid, a stigma becomes attached and if it’s your first time buying the products, it can feel embarrassing going up to the till. Even though we live in a modern world of self-service, for a young girl alone in the store it can be a daunting experience. When you eventually find the right section, you will notice that not all the items available are cheap, especially for a young girl with no job, living from pocket money. Not all parents can afford to buy these necessities, so what makes people think young children can afford to either? Yes, there are cheaper brands, but not all of them work. Sometimes the pads do not stick well and accidents occur. Like anything else, usually cost equates quality.
Not everyone has access to them. This is a safer and more sanitary option.
Not every child will have access to female sanitary products. Some may be experiencing period poverty where their guardians are unable to buy them regularly, some feel too embarrassed to even tell anyone they’ve started their period, and some live in a household that just doesn’t care. Our schools should give support to all their pupils in many ways and this would be a vital support system offered.
It can help reduce the stigma of periods and provide more education for everyone.
As I said earlier, the adverts on TV are portraying periods as unrealistic blue liquid. I understand that you don’t want them to go into too much detail, but by at least using the right colour, it could lower some of the stigma attached to periods. They are a natural cycle for most women and are uncontrollable. Young girls shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or disgusting when they go to get female sanitary products. Presenting schools with this opportunity opens up conversations with a wider audience and can even be a chance to educate boys on periods too. Many already live with female siblings, parents, family members, etc and have some vague understanding. So why are they still being thrown out of class during this discussion?
Helps prevent accidents and ensures no young girl misses out on her education.
A huge problem with period poverty, is the resulting loss of education. Many girls feel too embarrassed to attend school during their period. They become frightened of potential stains and the bullying that will result in them. By handing out free female sanitary products, embarrassment will lessen and girls will feel safe enough to attend classes. The anxiety of stains “coming through” will disappear and their concentration will improve. Such a simple solution to a huge problem that can affect the futures of many girls.
It is an opportunity to discuss different options of sanitary products.
I never knew about the menstrual cup until I attended university. I had no idea that there were such things as reusable pads, I thought the only options available were those sold on the shelves in stores. Why wasn’t I educated on all of this? Why are girls still not educated on this? By dispensing free products, it opens up the conversation on what else is available and why they are different. If girls have questions, hopefully this will encourage them to ask their teachers, creating a safe space.
Period Poverty can greatly affect young girls’ mental health.
The anxiety that comes with period poverty can have a massive affect on young girls’ mental health. The constant worry of being bullied and embarrassed can often lead to social anxiety and, when exposed to other concerns like exam pressure for instance, can sometimes lead to depression. This would be one way to take the pressure off and make school a safer, more enjoyable environment.
It is an opportunity to remind the girls that someone cares and is willing to help.
For those who feel neglected, this simple solution could be the one sign they need to prove that someone cares. Providing these products can greatly improve a girl’s time at school and be the support they need to continue.
With the pressure of SATs and other exams increasing, this would be just one way to help improve a pupil’s time at school and the education they receive. Young girls should feel supported by their teachers and school. They should have a safe space to discuss their options and not feel judged because of an easily recognisable stain. With talk of rising female empowerment, free female sanitary products would be a step in the right direction, enhancing the image of equality and reducing the social stigma of the menstrual cycle.