You may remember a particularly disturbing report earlier this year that indicated that girls were going to great lengths to avoid school during their periods because they couldn’t afford sanitary products and felt too ashamed.
Staff at charity Freedom4Girls, which provides sanitary products to women in Kenya, were first alerted to the problem after a school in Leeds contacted them.
“I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at,” a teenage girl told the BBC of the struggle to make use of everyday items because she didn’t have enough money to buy sanitary care. Her mother is a single parent with five children and limited funding.
A second girl admitted to the broadcaster that she missed school when she came on her period because she didn’t understand what was happening to her body and she was frightened.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 at the time, Tina Leslie, a Leeds-based member of Freedom4Girls who is also a public health worker, said she “wasn’t shocked at all” by the revelation.
“If you’ve got no food, you’ve got no money for sanitary protection,” she added, saying that more research was needed to establish the scale of the problem in the UK.
Since then, a campaign ( including a Change.org petition) to provide free sanitary products to UK schools has gathered some serious pace. And politicians, it seems, are listening to it too.
Both the Green Party and the Lib Dems have vowed to put an end to period poverty in their manifestos. Meanwhile, Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokeswoman, has announced plans to introduce a private members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament to help women and girls who can’t access or afford sanitary products.
Great news for young girls. But before leaping for joy at the Lib Dems, remember too that Farron is pro-life and against abortion. He also has a shaky record on voting in favour of LGBTQ+ rights.
As the i News paper points out, Jeremy Corbyn does remain the party leader with the strongest voting stance on women’s reproductive rights. See that article for details about exactly how all the main party leaders voted on the issue.