LibLink: Lorely Burt: The Government must act now to end period poverty

This week Lib Dem Peer Lorely Burt called on the Government to do more to end period poverty. Earlier this year it was revealed that some girls were missing school when they had their periods because they couldn’t afford tampons or towels. In an article for the Huffington Post, she said:

The simple truth is period poverty is a hidden problem; if it wasn’t for teachers and those volunteering at food banks reporting that this was a real issue, we probably would still be oblivious to it. Tragically we simply don’t know how many young girls it affects because embarrassment stops them from seeking help. Anecdotal evidence tells us that young girls who can’t afford sanitary products often end up using tissues, old socks and other totally inappropriate items. Shockingly this is happening up and down the UK – a prosperous and compassionate country.

Before the election, Lorely and others had extracted assurances from the Government that they would look at doing something about this but precious little has happened:

This week I wrote to Justine Greening asking for an update at very least. It seems that this Government thinks it can wash its hands of the problem and leave businesses like Bodyform and Boots, along with charities such as Freedom4Girls and In-Kind Direct, to pick up the pieces. Bodyform for example has promised to donate 200,000 packs of sanitary products by 2020, whilst Boots have placed donation boxes in their stores for customers to donate sanitary products to be distributed to girls in need.

We can’t get away from the fact that often these young girls and their families don’t have the money to purchase these vital hygiene products, thanks to cruel Conservative austerity measures that hit the poorest hardest. It is a scathing indictment of this government that girls in our country are suffering like this. Conservative ministers shouldn’t be allowed to just turn a blind eye and hope the issue goes away.

I will continue to campaign on this issue when Parliament returns, but there is no excuse for the government to not act now. We already know that girls are missing classes during their periods and when schools return in September the problem will re-surface. Liberal Democrats want to see free sanitary products available in every school nurses’ office for all girls who need them. This isn’t a huge ask, but as with everything in politics it’s about priorities – and priorities tell you a lot about political parties. So let’s see what this Conservative government does. The ball is now in their court.

 

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5 Comments

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Aug '17 - 11:05am

    I don’t think this is a new problem – I think it has been going on for generations.

    I can’t find the book at the moment but I recall an incident from the E. R. Braithwaite autobiographical novel “To Sir with Love” published in 1959. Apart from the incident when he finds a used sanitary towel was being burnt in the classroom fireplace (with pupils of both sexes present) he also refers to another teacher saying she was going to have to arrange a bath for a female pupil who stank – apparently she had been using the same sanitary towel for days.

    And this was written when Harold Macmillan was telling us “You’ve never had it so good”.

  • There are international aspects to this theme. See the attached link to an African newspaper about an initiative in Botswana.

    >>>There has always been an outcry that disadvantaged children and women resort to unhealthy methods during menstruation but this will no longer be the case for Batswana women and girls after a commendable move by parliament to provide free sanitary products.<<<

    https://thisisafrica.me/botswana-ensures-dignity-women-offering-free-sanitary-products/

  • Agreed that it’s not a new problem, and not (just) about poverty, at least not a simple case of not being able to afford the products.

    Many girls (and women) are embarrassed talking about periods, and will hesitate to ask for sanitary products, or to initiate any kind of conversation on the subject. Anything that helps to get people talking, and reduces barriers can only be good.

  • jayne Mansfield 14th Aug '17 - 7:54pm

    Isn’t the problem that of poverty?

    As a feminist I take exception to those who try to make a name for themselves, and to justify their position on this issue.

  • Ruth Bright 15th Aug '17 - 4:59pm

    Annoying that Bodyform are getting publicity for this as Bodyform products are absurdly expensive in the first place!

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