Bodyform, one of the UK’s leading feminine protection brands, defines period poverty as: “Being unable to access sanitary products and having a poor knowledge of menstruation often due to financial constraints.” Women and girls all over the globe are severely impacted by this and not only does this pose as a potential health risk, but it also affects their education, well-being and sometimes their entire lives. 

A group of young volunteers based in Bolton, UK, are taking the issue of period poverty into their own hands. Youth Leads UK is an award-winning charity that allows for the voices of young people to be heard. In this case, they are providing the chance for people aged 12-19 years old to speak up and let decision-makers know what a world where everyone can Be Period Proud looks like.

They initiated this campaign after it emerged that only 40% of schools and colleges have signed up to the government scheme offering free period products. With the stigma around periods still prevalent, several young people find it difficult to speak up about their periods, especially if they have difficulties accessing period products. To alleviate the worry surrounding access to period products, the take-up for the government scheme should be encouraged and this is exactly what Youth Leads UK are doing.

They are looking for people who experience periods to fill in their survey at youthleads.uk/bpp to find out people’s opinions about accessing period products and the stigma that surrounds talking about periods. They then plan on taking the results of the survey to key decision-makers, such as headteachers and politicians. This includes the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Minister for Women and Equalities.

Power to Our Periods
Self-care packages provided and distributed by Youth Leads UK. Photo credit: Youth Leads UK

As well as the survey, they are providing free self-care packages to those who need them. Within the packages are disposable sanitary pads, tampons and other self-care items chosen by the volunteers, including shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant.

Power to Our Periods
Self-care pack contents. Photo credit: Youth Leads UK.

It is so important for periods to be addressed, as no girl or woman should be living with anxiety that revolves around this natural, monthly process. With a greater understanding, awareness and destigmatisation of periods, period poverty can be tackled one step at a time.

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Cheryl is a final year student studying biomedical sciences at UCL. She hopes to use what she has learnt from her degree to work in a field where she can change the face of medicine.

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